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Poor Leaf

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  • Aly was exhausted.
  • Three years ago she hadn’t even been able to contemplate caring for a single child. Now there were three, three toddlers chasing each other over the furniture.
  • Caring for them was a full time job in itself.
  • Somehow Aly was also the spymaster for the Copper Isles. How is it that she manages all of this so well? Honestly she doesn’t remember.
  • Nawat helps greatly.
  • Of course he does.
  • She’d skin him if he were any other way.
  • No, Aly corrected herself, she never would’ve had children with him if he were any other way.
  • But even that only helps so much.
  • Especially on a day like today.
  • It had been awhile since she’d slept more than an hour at a time. Nawat had been on a mission the past week.
  • She missed him and his help greatly but, usually still had some assistance from the maids.
  • However today was a festival of sorts for Kyprioth.
  • That vain bastard, Aly thought viciously.
  • Which meant that all of the servants had the day and night off. Which also meant that, on top of navigating a potentially deadly peace treaty with Carthak, Aly was now without any help watching her little hellions.
  • Leaf shrieked it’s dismay as Junim climbed atop the glass and wrought iron table.
  • Aly swooped forward and snatched the squalling boy up. “Naughty little monster. Why must you climb everything?” She sighed gently before answering her own question, “Your inner crow is much too strong.”
  • Ulasu began to cry as Ochobai pulled her hair. These children needed a nap.
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • It took half an hour but, Aly had finally convinced them to sleep.
  • In the end it was an old song Maude used to sing to her that knocked them out.
  • It was a rare moment of absolute quiet. Aly knew she should be helping Dove, ensuring she didn’t get caught in some loophole the Carthaki ambassador was sure to be advocating.
  • But she was so gods-damned tired.
  • If she just closed her eyes for a second the world wouldn’t go up in flames.
  • Right?
  • Unfortunately Aly wasn’t going to get to find out.
  • The pounding on the front door forced her into alertness. Instinctively her fingers brushed the dagger at her thigh.
  • Aly pointed at the darking, “Keep an eye on the children.”
  • Leaf drew its jiggling black form up to its full height and gave an odd little salute.
  • Peering out the door’s spy hole, she saw one of Dove’s courtiers. Fuck. She would not be getting any sleep then.
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  • The courtier half dragged her to the palace. Where a frantic Dove waited. This was not good, Dove did not get frantic.
  • She was calm and level-headed, she thought through every angle of a plan. It’s why she was such an amazing queen.
  • However when an ambassador threw a public fit at the festival (in front of numerous potential allies) about her not signing off on a trade tariff, she was understandably a bit irritated.
  • An hour later, Aly had soothed Dove’s ruffled feathers and ensured that the ambassador was going to be on his best behavior.
  • She’d also taken copies of the treaty and all proposed tariffs to look over more thoroughly. Dove offered a quiet “thank you” and then paused, “Is Nawat back early?”
  • Confused, Aly shook her head.
  • “Then who’s watching the children?”
  • A bolt of sheer panic slammed into Aly.
  • No. Oh gods no. She’d left them.
  • With a two inch creature, who could do little but screech, as a guardian.
  • They could be hurt or kidnapped or dead.
  • She ran out the door.
  • Their home wasn’t far from the palace but the distance felt like miles. Aly was the worst mother in the world.
  • Tears began to burn her eyes.
  • She was an idiot, a complete and utter idiot. What was she thinking?! Maybe they aren’t even awake yet. Maybe there’s still time to fix this.
  • How could she be such an irresponsible disaster?
  • Aly nearly fell through the door, oh gods she hadn’t even locked the door, and bolted down the hall, back to her babies’ room.
  • Complete chaos greeted her.
  • Leaf sat on the headboard of the bed, tiny mouth open in an “O”, it’s high pitched wailing making Aly wince.
  • Ochobai had somehow ripped the feather comforter and was laughing hysterically as she clenched feathers in tiny plump fists. Junim was back on the table, bare feet stomping against the soon to shatter glass. And Ulasu had decided to engage in a screaming match with Leaf.
  • They were all alive.
  • Aly let out a rough sob and began thanking any and all deities she could think of.
  • And Leaf. Poor, terrified, brave, wonderful, little Leaf.
  • She was going to have to tell Daine that she’d aged the darking a good ten years.