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From Wilderness to Cities White  by Larner

For Celeritas for her birthday.  Sorry it's so late, but I promised myself I wouldn't write anything else until I had the last chapter of my Big Bang story finished!


            The Queen’s recognized unofficial handmaiden hurried up through the various levels of the city, easily making her way through the bustle of those who worked as servants who were heading for the homes where they worked, smiled after by Guardsmen who recognized her easily enough, eager to bring her newest acquisition to her Lady.  How lucky she’d been to find it!  She’d just turned that one last corner, and there it had been, obviously fresh off one of the ships lying out on the Harlond, quite the largest and most inviting of its kind she’d ever seen.  And she’d just managed to get it—the perfect thing for her Lady, who after all was kindling.

            How large it was—how fresh—how filled with nutrition!  How pleased her Lady should be!  A scramble through a shortcut, and an evasion of some child who’d even imagine that she would surrender her prize.  No, only her beloved Lady would receive this!

            At last—the ramp up to the highest level of the White City.  Nearly there!  How pleased her Lady would be!  A swift whisk through the Court of Gathering and past the Memorial to those precious little ones her Lady honored so, under the boughs of the White Tree, and around the Citadel toward the back.  Not for her the trouble of convincing the Guards at the front to open the doors for her this early in the morning.  No, they’d only pretend not to see her, after all, or would tease her.

            “Oh, look!  Did you see?”

            “My, what a huge one!  She must have spent hours searching for it!”

            “Oh, no—I know we’ll hear about this one!”

            “You’d think of taking that to her, would you?”

            She ignored them all.  Around through the gardens—that was the ticket!  And down this way—best ignore the guards at this door, too.  Annoying, they were.

            “Oh, dear—I’m not certain that’s the best thing this early in the morning.  I don’t believe she’s even up yet.”

            Well, of course her Lady wouldn’t be up yet.  She didn’t want for her Lady to be up when she brought this one.  She wanted it to be such a surprise!

            Ah—at last—her entrance!  Not for her such foolishness as doors and Guards.  Up on the sill and over.  Her acquisition wriggled in her grip, hoping she’d lose hold of it and allow it away.  Oh, no, it wouldn’t!  It was for her Lady, and that was that!  It had best realize just how fortunate it was to find itself laid—just there—right where her Lady would see it, as soon as she opened her eyes.  One last shake, and it was ready, ready for her Lady to see.  And she settled, so pleased, just waiting….


            The King was at his toilet when he heard----


            He was so startled he dropped his comb with a clatter and rushed to see what was the matter with his beloved.  She was half-risen, leaning on one arm, her head over the side of the bed, scrabbling for the chamber pot in apparent desperation.  He hurried to her side and removed the lid for her, held it for her with one hand while holding her beautiful hair out of the way with the other while she found herself seeking to empty an already largely empty stomach.

            When she was done, he sat by her and held her to him.  “I’ve not seen you become so ill in the morning before, vanimelda,” he murmured as he stroked her forehead.  “Is the child making you uncomfortable this morning?”

            She pulled herself from him, shaking her head.  “Don’t blame this on the child,” she said.  “Blame her!”  And she turned to cast a regal glare at Kitling, supposedly his cat, who now lay on his abandoned pillow, a most satisfied expression on her face as she purred loudly and kneaded at the fabric of the pillow slip as if she were most pleased with herself.  Arwen brushed a strand of hair from her eyes.  “Ever since we conceived this child she has barely left me alone, almost as if she feels responsible for me and the baby within.  But I don’t know how much more of this I can take!”

            She moved slightly, and suddenly he could see.  Lying between the pillows, its head on that his wife slept upon in such a manner she must have awakened nose to nose with it, lay the largest, fattest, healthiest looking, and sleekest ship’s rat he’d ever seen, obviously just killed only moments before.  He swallowed.  “Sweet Valar!” he whispered in awe.  “It’s as big as she is, if not bigger!  And she brought it to you?”

            She nodded, obviously trying to keep from retching anew.  “I am so glad she is pleased that I am with child,” she said, “but why does she insist on trying to bring me breakfast in bed?”

            He dissolved into laughter as he rose, and taking the poor creature by the tail between his fingertips he bore it out of the room.

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