I sigh. This is not what I wanted at all. Here I thought there would be this large, library-like-building that we could take shelter in. Instead, we have a crazed dryad, prone to violent outbursts. “Well, to begin with, I was sent here to learn more about the world… and the bearfolk. By Gaia.”
“Ah! A seeker of knowledge, please, by my guest! I will guide you to our library and assist in any way I can. Please, right this way!” In a complete turn of events, the excessively violent dryad, became super helpful and pleasant…?
As he leads us through the flowers, they recede in a path in front of him, then regrow behind us. It reminds me of a nature documentary I once saw about some sort of sea plants… or were they fauna? When they were disturbed, they would quickly retract, only to slowly come back afterward.
I look down over my shoulder at Dubhe, and decide to bring up a somewhat difficult topic I have been thinking about for a while. “Uh, so, Dubhe… I saw a bearfolk woman the other night. She mentioned that she thinks you’ll have a litter of at least four… So…”
I can tell she’s frowning right now, then she looks off to one side then the other, as if checking for other nearby. I take the opportunity to check my bearings, so I don’t trip into this death-flower-patch. She looks back to me and starts speaking. “Our children tend to be smaller. It’s probably six. Don’t worry though. They will grow up bigger than other bearfolk. You don’t need to worry about how big they start.” She sounds exasperated. Much like it’s a argument she’s had many times before.
That’s not what I’m worried about though. Where the hell am I going to house seven children?! I just can’t come to terms. Seven.
I must be zoning out, as Dubhe nervously starts talking. “Really, our children will be mighty, no need to worry, husband. Our children have always been mighty. I really worry for any husband that challenges you. You could beat our children so easily, yet they were among the best and strongest. I’m sure these will be just as strong… no, even stronger, because they have you as their father.” She’s rambling on, and I can feel my ears heating up.
I’m so conflicted. I get that she’s trying to placate any worries I have… But they are totally the wrong concerns. And she’s being so nice. She never speaks to me like this. Then there is the guilt I feel for unknowingly killing her children and previous husband. How do I respond to this?
I take a deep breath. No, the only thing I need to do is be honest. “Where are we going to house seven children? How are we going to take care of that many infants?”
I watch her smile, then something hits her and her eyes grow wide. “If… If some of these are more Hume… Oh, oh… Oh dear… I didn’t think. Oh… What about… No… How about… Uh…” Her jaw flaps a bit as she’s trying to come up with solutions to tell me.
I chuckle a bit nervously and smile at her. “Well, we’ll figure it out, I just figured that we’d be coming to a giant building here, and we’d borrow rooms there.”
“WHAT?! IS MY LIBRARY NOT GIANT?!” The dryad in front of us stops and shouts down at us, clearly eavesdropping.
“Uh, sorry, that’s not what I meant. Are there rooms that we could use until we travel to our next destination? Hume newborns… don’t travel well.” I clarify for him, but I’m not sure how much of that makes sense to a dryad. To that end, I’ve never asked what bearfolk children are like either. Or dryad children. I have a lot to learn, for sure.
“Oh, of course. The Queen lives there with her husband, and the higher ranking retirees, as well. I’m sure they would love to have children to care for. I’ll announce your expectations for them to care for your children while you study. Rest assured, no need to worry.” The dryad explains, yet neither his tone nor his body language seem to add any nuance to his words.
Wait, what? No, that’s not what I asked for! I feel like I just signed us up for a very large amount of trouble. No, he just signed us up for a lot of trouble. I just wanted somewhere to stay! I need to explain this! “We just need rooms… I’m not sure all that is necessary…”
“Nonsense. How will you learn anything, if you are caring for a bunch of children? Well, I guess that will be a learning of itself… But you came here for a different reason, correct?” He looks back at us without stopping… Much like an owl, turning his neck 180 degrees. It’s creepy.
“Good! It’s settled then. I’ll discuss it with the court as soon as I show you the way to your chambers and the central library room.” He continues on without missing a beat.
I don’t know what to think. Is this really the same man that just tried to kill me only a few minutes ago? Will the bearfolk ‘court’ really take care of us? Are they all housed in that tree? I mean, it is a Gaia tree… so it’s very possible. How does it stay up with so much mass if it’s hollowed out for living space?
I have so many questions.
I rub my head.
I feel a tapping on my shoulder.
Lillia is smiling at me. “Carry.”
I am so glad we are nearly at the entrance of the Gaia tree, since she is so heavy right now. I would never tell her that though. I’ve been hit one too many times for saying such things.
So, I princess carry Lilia the rest of the way to the tree. I ignore the chuckles from Dubhe behind us as I struggle with the off-centered weight a few times.
Thanks for the support! I am in your care!