“Bees?!” Svetlana Leveton looked at her husband as if he had gone mad.
“Yes bees, woman.” Oleg punctuated his statement with his soup spoon adding bits of dumpling and carrot to the argument for good measure. “They will make Olegton even more money.”
“I just don’t see how bees are going to help,” Svetlana settled into her chair and began to dip into her third bowl. “At least now I know why you had all those boxes shipped in from Silverhall. How many bees are you going to have?”
“Bunches of them to create enough to trade honey, wax and go in with Lucien for some mead.” Oleg watched as Svetlana tucked into yet another bowl of stew. How she ate so much, pregnant or not, left him dumbfounded. He stood and cleared his own bowl.
“Besides it isn’t just me, Lana. Markoa has been pushing the economic agenda hard lately and I suspect that will be the focus for some time to come. These bee fields will give more trade goods and when the spring comes you’ll see more activity than ever in the kingdom. The river will become as important as the road,” Oleg began pouring a packet of herbs and whatnot into a cup wrinkling his nose at the faint smell the dry bits gave off, “but the bulk of what comes from, or goes to, Numeria, Mendev and Brevoy will have to come through Olegton.”
The hot water hit the tea sending noxious steam rolling up into the cool cabin air hitting Oleg’s senses like a rotten egg to the face. Svetlana seemed far less affected but she still paused in shoveling food into her mouth and pushed the bowl away from her. Oleg didn’t say anything. They’d had the argument over Lana’s medicine many times so there were no more words but the argument still played out in the quiet evening chill of the cabin in looks and body language. By the time Oleg had set the teacup with the saucer placed atop in a vain attempt to smother the stench it was clear that Svetlana had won and when she placed a hand upon her discernible bulge Oleg shoved it all aside to kneel next to her and place his own hands over hers. It was silent in the cabin but Svetlana knew the look that Oleg gave her now meant that he was thinking, again, about the family he’d had before that had died, about what this new child meant to him. Oleg noticed Svetlana’s fingers barely stroking her belly. He knew she’d been with child many times before, what she had done before he had effectively purchased her for marriage. Then, however, her house mother had given her the teas and tinctures that had ended those pregnancies. This was hers. Thiers. It was one of the reasons that Svetlana had become so concerned about doing everything possible to ensure a healthy baby. It was why she was listening to that midwife and drinking that foul medicine. Oleg had little use for the woman; she obviously thought little of him.
She wasn’t alone either. There were many who whispered about a woman as young as Svetlana married to a man twice her age who had dragged her out to the middle of nowhere. He himself had had his own doubts. It had been awkward in the beginning and he’d thought he’d lose her to that young friend Slade’s, Zebulon Pike. It had only served to strengthen their relationship and even though he knew that he could be a bit curmudgeonly and still secretly thought a woman should stay in the home he knew that they were destined to be together for a long long time.
The moment ended and Oleg stood to clear Lana’s bowl and while his back was turned Svetlana took the cup of medicine and gulped it down. It was horrid vile stuff. It took a while of focus to fight the need to vomit and the whine from the stabbing gut pains that radiated out of her womb for the briefest of moments but by the time Oleg had returned she had regained her composure and began to feel the warm euphoria that followed. She was always sleepy after the tea and Oleg helped her into the bedroom and to get into bed. Oleg always retired late but since becoming Councilor Svetlana found that she retired early in order to have the energy to do the many things that she felt were part of her job. The wind moaned against the cabin and drove snow and ice at them but Svetlana settled into their warm feather bed and lost consciousness quickly.
Miles away another pregnant woman felt less comfortable. Katilyne stood up again for the sixth time that night. The storm raged outside the town hall and inside Katilyne fought with her own body. She could not get comfortable in the chair at her desk but if she stood for too long that was equally irritating. She had work to do as second command of the Order of the Raven and standing over the desk wasn’t the easiest way to do it. Truth be told she didn’t have that much to do but Akiros was gone on patrol again and busying herself with cleaning up records and reports seemed better than sitting in her room at the Order’s rented house listening to Dannell’s romps through the walls or Shulb’s unnerving stares if she crossed paths with the crazy woman. She understood duty, by Aroden she’d had her armor adjusted three times now just so she could continue patrols and postings for the Baron. Lizvetta kept trying to sneak extra duty so she wouldn’t have to but Katilyne swore by the gods that some baby wasn’t going to interfere any more than it would have to and it was interfering a great deal already. The belly, the back aches, the mood swings, the tonics that reeked, the inability to get comfortable in bed, the sudden need to want Ismort at the drop of a hat only to have the feeling end just as quickly, the arrangements for the things and people she’d need in the summer when she could get the child out of her and start recovering her…everything; it all irritated her. The worst were the looks and the touches. She was a soldier and soldiers didn’t suffer belly touches and that insufferable look that she kept getting. Swear by Iomedae, she thought irritably, if that guard Prog smiled at her like some prize winning heifer again she would gut him with her halberd. She sat again to finish a report and the ache in her ass and back began again.
Akiros Ismort, she thought hot and red as she slugged back the last of her drink and grimaced, I hope you’re suffering as much as I am. I hope that you’re trapped under your horse in the cold and wet on sharp rocks.
It only made matters worse that immediately after thinking that Katilyne wanted nothing more than to be taken by him right there and right then in the office and the frustration of it pissed her off to no end.
Calistria seemed to command her month to abuse the countryside while evoking passion within the shelters of natives across the Stolen Lands. The priests of Erastil and Pharasma, and midwives all over noticed that by the beginning of spring there were an unusual number of pregnancies and passions. Seetha the First accepted help and with Gorum’s blessing found herself lounging in the Hut of Clutches surrounded by not just her unusually large clutch but that of the females of the village. Gorum be praised she thought as she ate more meat to prepare for another laying.
Chief Sootscale believed that he must have the largest harem that any kobold chief had ever had, certainly any of the Sootscale’s chiefs. His plan was more good than he had ever imagined, his tribe more good than they could have dreamed. Tartuk had almost destroyed everything, him and his demon god statue but the Chief knew how to have bright thoughts early and act on them quick. He destroyed the idol and followed the humans and it was all shiny from there, the shiniest as far as the Chief could see. The humans and the human-ishs actually treated him with respect. The Warden MadBeard visited him and talked with him about Things That Were Important. Some of his own best warriors were part of the Ravenwing’s warriors and not the harem warriors either. Soon the eggs would hatch and by summer the caverns would have the workforce to mine deeper than ever and it was quite possible that he could not get any more shiny luck. The Chief lopped to his deep soft rich bed of pelts and blankets and snuggled in between his three most favorite mates to see if even better bright thoughts came to him.
In a warm common room in Rickety Bridge in a corner away from the travelers slumbering around the fireplace on the floor two men argued over politics, discussed audiences during performances and compared skills over warm ale and cold chicken. Yorthath Cannablytock finally stood to retire for the evening after listening and talking to the two all night. His inn was packed with interesting people with interesting stories but these two had so much more to offer him that he felt sure that they alone could fill him with more wonder than he had felt in a while. However he needed his rest, he had used a great number of his healing potions on people with minor frostbite and in the round of beers he had bestowed to the trapped travelers. The weather was bad anyway so he was sure that an extra day or two in Rickety Bridge just made sense anyway. He would get a good sleep after visiting the girls in the barn and start brewing more healing draught in the afternoon.