Even by the swiftest hawkstrider, the journey from Silvermoon to House Dawnseeker’s estate would have taken four days. Ordinarily Thalorien Dawnseeker would have been more than happy to take the scenic route. Quel’Thalas was astoundingly beautiful, and four days was no time at all to an elf that lived for centuries.
But not today. Today had gone poorly, almost hilariously so. The Council had been a failure, his strongest supporter held in contempt of the king, and… well, that was the worst of it. Kael… was right there, and he still couldn’t say it. He never could. Watching Kael teleport to Dalaran, to be with that thrice damned human of his, had left all sorts of sour tastes in his mouth. Butleress wasn’t even a word, damn it all to hell!
He needed his family, and he needed it immediately. Life was just perfect with his daughter, no matter what else was going on.
Thalorien deeply hoped his wife wasn’t there.
It was easy enough to demand the services of a mage. He was the Blade of Silvermoon, after all, refusing his requests was a career ending move for anyone of lower rank. Thalorien stood on the threshold of the primary Dawnseeker mansion, pleased once again that one of his ancestors possessed the foresight to build a home on a central ley line. Travel was so much easier with instantaneous teleportation available.
House Dawnseeker ruled over a very large chunk of land, an almost excessively large valley nestled in the heart of Eversong Woods. The primary estate was vast, the single sprawling structure rivaling that of smaller human cities. It needed to be, as it housed six other Patron Houses in addition to the Dawnseekers. House Dawnseeker presided over one of the largest forges in Quel’Thalas, sported one of the best hunting grounds, and played host to a number of magical orchards and farms.
The estate was incredibly busy, and today was no exception. The monthly harvest was due on the morrow, and the estate was brimming with activity from the numerous agricultural magi and other arcane laborers present. Thalorien rushed past various servitors, dismissing their greetings with a quick nod. He had business in the kitchen.
It was just after one in the afternoon, and if he knew his daughter, she would be angling for whatever leftovers she could scrounge or coerce from the army of chefs. The sweeter, the better. Or cheese, she was rather fond of cheeses.
There was no such thing as a cook within Quel’Thalas. Basic food could simply be created at will by even the most unskilled of mages. The Sunwell produced nigh infinite arcane energy. The true challenge was in elevating food to an art form. A feast fit for a human king was child’s play, something apprentices did to warm up for lessons. The chefs of Quel’Thalas took food, and made peerless art from it. Most of them would take umbrage if anyone had the gall to call them chefs to their faces.
The kitchen was always home to such incredible sweets and desserts. Thus, it was home to anyone who wished to eat them.
And sure enough, there she was. His little Arkenheart, his own little light in the darkness.
Brazenly stuffing her face with what appeared to be a golden apple.
One of the fine chefs stood nearby, proudly watching the heir of House Dawnseeker munch on his work. Thalorien slipped into the kitchen, being careful not to alert his daughter or the various food craftsmen to his presence. The latter wasn’t a challenge, their clothing would need to burst into flame before they bothered to pay attention to anything that wasn’t their work. Sometimes not even then. His daughter, however, was much more alert. Uncannily so. She would make an excellent Farstrider some day, no doubt.
He had barely managed to enter the kitchen at all when she spotted him. She tossed the golden apple thing aside without a second thought, leapt off the counter and rushed towards him. The chef let out a gasp of horror, performing a rather skilled swan dive, trying to catch the fallen apple. He was, sadly, too slow, and the apple struck the ground, shattering. How was she eating that?
The thought was dashed to the ground just as violently, as Arkenheart attacked his leg with a cry of “DADDY!” Grinning stupidly, he found himself unable to form any coherent thoughts, picking her up and hugging her as fiercely as he could. “What’s right in the world, Arkie?”
She beamed at him, a few flecks of golden crumbs still clinging to her clothes. “I helped make cookies and they weren’t very good but I made them like cats only they looked like bad cats but they still tasted really good!”
“Do you have any left?”
“Yes! No. I ate them all well most of them not all but I saved some for you cause I fig you wanted some cause they were really good and I like cookies and you’re daddy so you like cookies too but then I eat them all. I tried really hard to save them but then I forgot and ate them all anyway! You shoulda come home earlier!”
“I’m sorry Arkie, daddy had very important war business to do.”
“Was it about oks again?”
“Orcs, Arkie. Orrrrcs. And yes.”
“Daddy, what does fuck cock mean?”
“Sorry… Arkie, what?”
“Fuck cock. Whatsit mean?”
Think fast, Thalorien. This is one of those parenting moments you’ve trained for. “Well… er, it’s a sound chickens make. Fuhcawk! Right?”
Arkenheart tilted her head, mulling it over. Then she smiled. “Fuhcawk! Yeah!”
Dodged one hell of a crossbow bolt there, Thalorien. Good save. “Now just don’t say that around mommy, okay?”
“Mommy doesn’t like chickens.”
“Once, when mommy was a little girl, she was attacked by a giant demonic chicken called El Pollo Grande, the Black Chicken of Death. She only barely survived with her life, and she’s been afraid of chickens ever since.”
“How big? Bigger than an ok?”
“MUCH bigger than an orc!”
Arkenheart’s eyes went wide with terror.
“You don’t want to scare mommy do you?”
“No!” said Arkenheart, aghast. “Never ever never never no! I promise!”
“That’s my girl. Now… where, exactly, did you hear fuhcawk?”
Arkenheart smiled brightly again. “Mommy said it!”
“Mom… mommy said that?”
Well. So much for that then. “Why did mommy say that? Do you know why?”
“I unno. A priest man was here, and he told her she was preggint againt, and then she was all chicken!”
Thalorien kept his face the same, still smiling at his daughter. It didn’t work, she sensed immediately that he was upset.
“Wha’s wrong daddy?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all. I need to go talk with mommy about something, any idea where she is?”
Arkenheart shrugged. “At home somewhere?”
Among the elves, pregnancy was a very big deal. Female elves had conscious control over the release of their eggs, they did not possess menstrual cycles as most other races did, and there certainly was no such thing as accidental pregnancy.
Thalorien and his wife had not had any plans to birth any more children. Which meant either she had decided to conceive another child with him without his knowledge, or she had decided to conceive another child without his knowledge, only he was not the father of this new one. The former made no sense at all, the latter… did. It made too much sense, actually.
Thalorien did not care about the concept of “cheating”. They had married out of political reasons, it was expected that both husband and wife would seek other, proper lovers outside the marriage. But having another child, that was madness, dastardly political maneuvering. He had already designated Arkenheart his heir, but if his damned wife designated the new child the heir, and his political position kept weakening like this…
But, if she was moving to usurp the proper heir of House Dawnseeker, why would she be upset when her scheming went exactly as planned? That made no sense.
Well. This day just keeps getting worse and worse.
He never should have married Bloodwrath’s sister.