“Dubhe, it’s time.” Goddess! that was startling. Lillia, that hibernator – or, was for the past week – is now suddenly standing in the doorway. When did she get there?
It’s good to see her awake and well. Her state was worrying. “Welcome back to the world! Wait, time?”
“Oh!” The hume girl helping stands up quickly. “I’ll go get the queen! Er… right?” She looks back and forth, then hastens out of the room without waiting for a response. Huh? Why is she panicking?
Time for what?
“Dubhe… Food Source Tristain?” Her head tilts.
“Ah… husband… is busy in the library. I think. Probably.” That’s a terrible thing to need to disclose to an expecting mother. The father isn’t available to help you. Sorry, go it alone. Let’s never need to say that ever again, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It’s also a bit heart-wrenching to see her shoulders droop at those words. “Hun, it’s okay, we have each other. We’re a family… er… Technically we are considered a race or a nation or something… These last few cycles sure have been confusing.”
Lillia comes over and gives a brief hugs, before lying on the ground. “Come.” She waves me over to her side.
Oh, wait. Wait wait wait. That time?
“Ahahaha, sorry, yes hun.” Sitting nearby, holding hands, and reassuring her: “We’re here with you.”
Her smile is so wonderful. It’s infectious.
Shortly thereafter, the hume comes back in the room with the queen. “Uh, if it’s a hume, I’ll take care of it. If it’s a bearfolk, the queen will assist.”
“If it’s bearfolk? She isn’t having my kids. How would that even happen? Who takes care of it if it’s a dryad… ling… er… kidlet… thing…?” What do you call baby dryads?
“No worries. Dryads smart.” Yeah, no one is going to believe that, Lillia. Let’s not mince words to save your pride here. No one can claim that you’re smart.
Before anyone can summon up a response, however, the Librarian enters and interposes: “I’ll take care of any Dryadites, if you’re so concerned.”
“““Out!””” Three voices speak as one.
Lillia smiles at us.
“Well, that was… interesting.”
Lillia is holding a single hume child. A girl. From a bearfolk’s perspective, a girl is a blessing. No idea about a dryad’s or a hume’s perspective. Well, it doesn’t matter. It was cleaned up by the hume woman, and is now sleeping. She was quite concerned when we all found out that Lillia couldn’t produce milk.
The solution? “Dubhe, you need to feed this one after your children are born.” Well… It is husband’s child. And it’s quite cute. Such a request can’t be refused. It won’t be a problem either, because the shock of the whole thing started a second round of labor. We’re up.
That isn’t the interesting part though. She had twins. The first child born was a dryadite. As soon as it was born, it spoke: “Hi mommy Lillia! Hi mommy Dubhe!”
Wait, what? It then cuddled up to Lillia, and fell asleep on her chest. It was completely unperturbed by the rest of the labor as it slept. Lillia needs to explain this… later, when I’m not busy.
That said, they look very cute and peaceful from over here. Lillia, holding a female hume infant, sleeping in her arms, bundled up in some cloth to keep it warm, and a dryadite sleeping on her chest… Even though she is sitting mostly upright with her back against a wall. How does it lay nearly vertical like that?
Something’s wrong with dryads. Seriously.
Also, was that a male or female dryadite? No gender was apparent.
“Don’t get lost in thought! Come on, it’s your turn now!” Directs the hume woman.
“Hah, we’ve done this several times already. It’s not time yet. We’ll let you know. Just a bit yet.” She is such a worrywart. It will come when it’s ready.
“Oh, hah, we were wrong, it’s time.”
“Queen! It’s time!”
“What… just happened?” The queen is holding two infant bearfolk, a male and a female. They keep nuzzling her. “Anyways, Dubhe, feed these children. They’re hungry.”
Lillia also hands over her daughter.
“Uh, do we feed this one?” Everyone looks at the second dryadite. The one that came with the rest of the litter.
“No.” Lillia picks… it? up and holds it. It doesn’t have a defined gender… Perhaps? She cuddles both dryadites.
“Okay…” Feeding all the non-dryad children, then? There are three humes – our two male hume sons and Lillia’s hume daughter. Then, two bearfolk infants – my third son, and newborn daughter. “Wait…” Sigh. So tired from all that work. “Lillia’s daughter and our daughter first. The boys can wait. We can only do two at a time. Queen, Hume woman, hold the rest.”
Much better. Feeding time is going to be complicated for a while. While we wait for the children to do their thing… “Lillia. Why did your dryadite talk?”
“Dryads are smart.” She smiles.
“Yeah, no. How did he get smart?”
“Passed on knowledge. Sorry, it’s been hard to hold multiple conversations at the same time. It should be better now. I was worried when my daughter wouldn’t talk back to me. I’m glad she is healthy as a hume.” So… Dryads pass knowledge to their newborns before they are born? That is frightening. It’s a mini Lillia. A close eye needs to be kept on that one.
“Also,” she continues, “my firstborn is a dryadite. Not a he.”
“What does that mean?” We know it’s a dryadite…
“Dryads aren’t male or female.” What?
“You, are very clearly female.” She just had children. How can she not be female?
“This dryadite is Food Source Tristain’s and mine’s child. But this one,” She points to the dryadite that came with the bearfolk litter. “This is our child, Dubhe.”
Author’s Note: Thanks for the support! I am in your care! You are free to discuss the surprises here. XD
Also, the longer this story goes on, the more and more words spell correct flags. I suspect that around volume 10, not a single word will be standard English. Full squiggly red underlines on the whole chapter.