Saraich Flamebeard wiped her brow from the heat of the forge in Aerie Peak, smiling down at the bundle set a safe distance away where her infant daughter was sleeping soundly, despite all the noise from the anvil. Truly a Blacksmith's daughter...not much would stir her once she fell asleep.
She raised her arm high, getting ready to start working on the edge of the sword she was forging again, when suddenly a long, narrow shadow fell across the anvil from the doorway.
She blinked at the trembling, tear-stained Elf in uncomfortable surprise. "Ach...Pook?"
- * * * * * *
Pook set out early in the day, kissing her sleeping husband on the forehead squarely between the horns with soft affection. She gathered her son in her arms and set off for Bloodhoof Village...it almost pained her to hand him over to the Greatmother some days. She wished she could take him with her, but she had a lot of traveling to do today, traveling that was going to be made a lot harder than it had been previously by the fact that she couldn't just send herself to Moonglade anymore with a twist of her wrists and a flash of white light.
She had to know if there was hope.
A long, long flight later she walked into Moonglade. It was strange not to feel the metallic rattle of the charm anklet against her plate greaves after she'd removed it - it hadn't left her body since the day Daltrien was born. A surge of electric excitement surged through her at the thought of it being gone...the day seemed so full of hope, so full of possibilities. She set her shoulders in a line of determination as she headed for the largest building in Nighthaven, the wind blowing the hair that she'd allowed to be its natural aqua-blue for this meeting. It had been at least a few years now, with the Tauren and the Elves living and working side by side here...if anyone might know, it would be them.
"Excuse me...sir?" She said, approaching the Elven man at the end of the extended terrace.
Rabine Saturna eyed her in a kindly if harried fashion. "Yes?"
"I..." Pook faltered, deciding to get right to the point. "I'm doing some research, you see, looking into a situation that concerns me..."
A slight frown of concern crossed his features. "What can I help you with?"
"It's...well...you see, the Tauren and the Elves have been living together here for some time now..." she wrung her hands slightly, glancing down. "I was wondering...have any of them ever had children together?"
The nearby Moonglade Wardens exchanged a look, and the Elven man watched her quietly for some time with a deep frown before he responded. "There are some matters best to let lie, sister. I would recommend that you let those spirits rest."
"But..." Pook trailed off, blinking, seeing already in the set of his jaw that any further inquiry would meet the same response. "Thank you, sir," she said with a quick bow and turned to leave.
Just as she got past the door, a hand brushed against her arm lightly. She turned to see an Elven woman, glancing around nervously, her voice low. "Utzah Stormhoof is who you should speak to...he helps to guard the Barrow Dens to the East."
Pook tilted her head, confused, but nodded. "Thank you..."
The Elven girl frowned, already half-fled back into the building. "Alea was a friend of mine...she would want you to know."
She arrived at the largest Moonwell in Moonglade a short time later, looking at it thoughtfully, remembering all the times she'd visited it as she passed. Just beyond were the Barrow Dens, spaces set up for the Druids to slumber in as they tended to the Emerald Dream. They were empty these days, but there were still guards set at the entrance. The closest one was watched by an Elven woman and a Tauren man...she approached the Tauren carefully, smiling cautiously, and he fixed her with an unreadable, flat look. "Yes?" He rumbled.
"Excuse me...I'm looking for an Utzah Stormhoof? I was told that he might be able to talk to me about a certain matter..."
He exchanged a glance with his counterpart across the Den's entrance before he nodded curtly, sighing. "Well, you've found him...you might as well ask."
"I, well, I've been looking into something. About whether it would be possible for an Elf and a Tauren to have children together..." She said, watching his expression change with her words. He looked down at the ground vaguely, and when his gaze came up again, he looked resolved yet weary.
"I took an Elf as my life-mate, years ago...I'll take you to see her," He said.
Pook frowned, following him as he made his way slowly over a nearby hill, walking as though every step pained him. It seemed to take an eternity to arrive, even though the actual distance was very short to Moonglade's graveyard.
He nodded to a headstone marked only with the name "Alea," and then below that, smaller, "Isha."
Pook gazed at the gravestone, at a loss for words, and then looked back to the Tauren man who was doing the same, without expression. "I...I'm so sorry..." she said quietly.
"It was in the early days of the Taurens' arrival at the Moonglade...there was still a lot of suspicion, a lot of uneasiness between our people," he said softly, gripping the hilt of his axe hard. "We didn't tell anyone. It was a secret, just between us...We didn't know...we assumed it would be fine..."
He shook his head slowly, closing his eyes. "There were problems. Many problems. She was very ill, weak. In a great deal of pain. The child grew very fast, too fast for her body to adjust, they say. But we didn't know..."
Pook steeled herself for the end of the story, the general shape of it already clear in her mind as he laid a hand on the stone. "She died trying to give birth. The child died. They were buried together. I named her Isha, because she was ours, and because she died that day."
Pook flinched, knowing enough Taurahe to understand.
Utzah nodded, noting this, watching her with sorrow-filled eyes. "I remember when you came here with him and stayed in the Dens. Go back to your bull, little Kee. Forget that you ever wanted this. Some things are not meant to be. If not for your sake...then for his," he said, turning without another word or glance, and headed back to his post.
- * * * * * *
"I was taken to three graves today," Pook said, her voice trembling slightly as she sat in the Flamebeard home, her face reddened with crying. She held a mug of warm tea in her hands, untouched.
Pook was not Saraich's favorite person. They'd come to blows once or twice, mostly over the matter of Pook trying on occasion to get into her husband Draeg's breeks, and once when she refused to give up the location of her demonic lover she'd wound up with a shoulder full of ammo from Sara's shotgun. But still...Draeg had a stubborn fatherly soft spot for the Elf, and they'd formed a tentative friendship once she'd started taking care of Pook's son Daltrien, before her own Moira was born.
But even then...seeing her like this, her heart went out to her. The Dwarven woman placed a hand over Pook's urging the mug up. "Ach, have a touch a' least, lass...it'll make ye feel a bi' better, calm yer nerves..."
Pook nodded, taking a small sip of the tea. "The first was a Guardian in Moonglade, she and the baby died in childbirth. The second was an Elf who'd been captured as part of a raiding party in Ashenvale...once she realized she was with child, she took her own life." Pook and Saraich's expressions mirrored one another, sudden and sorrowful. "The third grave was so small...it was the son of a Tauren woman and an Elven man...she said he hadn't lived even a day, there were just too many problems. But she said he was beautiful..."
Pook broke down in a fresh torrent of tears, her shoulders shaking, and the mother in Saraich compelled her to her feet, draping her arms around Pook's shoulders to hug her reassuringly. "Ach, lass...ah know ye know ah ken a goodly amount abou' these things...ah'd say..."
She hesitated thoughtfully. Would it be best if she discouraged her all together? No matter what happened, the chances were that it would be very, very dangerous. And yet at the same time, the girl who'd trained at her mother's knee for decades to take her place as the head Midwife in Deep Mountain within her couldn't bring herself to lie.
"It's happened so little, an' yer circumstances are a bi' different, wha' with yer own mixed blood an'...whatever else i' is ye have goin' on there..." she mumbled vaguely, only being somewhat aware of whatever strange qualities there were about the Elf from talking to Draeg. "If i' can happen a' all, tha's a good sign. It's jus' a matter of gettin' ye an' the child through th' whole thing intact...IF ye were carefully watched th' WHOLE time by midwives an' healers, IF it turned out yer body was sturdy enough ta handle such a thing, it's POSSIBLE--"
She couldn't help but wince at the sudden widening of Pook's eyes, glinting excitedly.
"Mind ye, it's a verra, verra SMALL possibility!" She said firmly, taking Pook's hands and holding them tightly, trying to get her attention. It was too late, Pook was looking right through her, her eyes fixed on some distant, dreaming point.
Saraich sighed, resigned. "There's a verra small chance tha' ye would'na die, an' an even smaller chance tha' th' child would be viable. Tha's assuming that ye COULD even catch wi' child in th' first place."
"Then there's hope," Pook said softly, a small smile curling the edges of her lips.
"Aye lass," Saraich said hesitantly, wondering if she would come to regret this. "There's hope."