Prologue: Drawing the Sword of Blood

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The young human woman on Doctor Lachem's operating table writhed in obvious pain, the surface of her distended belly rippling beneath the thin sheet that covered her naked, sweating body.  A low moan managed to work its way past the leather-covered stick she clamped desperately between her teeth even as she clutched at the stone sides of the table with torn and bleeding hands.  She would have been beautiful if her face wasn't twisted with pain and fatigue.

"Not long now, doctor."  A dark haired elf said softly, the slurring of his Tranalo and his dark skin marking him as Mardish.  Dressed in a fitted coat of expensive white tora cloth he was a slender fellow with a carefully trimmed goatee.   Arms folded the dark skinned elf stood at the woman's feet.

"Indeed, Lord Asorn."  Lachem dryly replied from where he stood a pace from the woman's head.  He was a tall elf with silvery white hair, his clipped Tranalo and pale skin marking him as Solavar.  After a glance at the struggling woman he returned to his note taking, penning his observations with a fine quill pen and smooth, flowing script into a small notebook he held in his hand.

"Good of you to trouble yourself."  Asorn continued as if Lachem hadn't spoke, his pale blue eyes lifting from the human to regard the tall Solavar for a moment.  "I would've had the veterinarian birth her but he was late in arriving from his estates and I didn't want to lose one of my finest females waiting."  With the points of his ears showing through his long hair which was pulled back into a fashionable tail and held in place with a braided cord of pure gold, the Mardish was the picture of elven gentility.  There was money in that family and not just from his human breeding enterprise.

"A wise decision."  Lachem said with a faint smile as he closed his notebook with an equally faint 'crack' and put it into one of the pockets of his long white tora cloth coat.  "However as you may have noted these humans are not so dissimilar from us."

"Not so dissimilar,. . . ."  Asorn practically sputtered, throwing Lachem an incredulous look.  "You can't be serious, doctor."  He looked back at the heaving woman. "They're little more than animals. A mere step up from apes swinging in the trees!"    

The human guardsman that stood by the chamber's entrance looked up at that.  He was a giant of a man with his head shaved bare and a muscular body barely covered by a knee-length mail shirt, snug leather breeches and calf boots.  A giant, double headed axe resting butt down on the floor was his only weapon.  At Asorn's comment he glanced over at the elf he was sworn to protect.  Beyond the look however the brawny human didn't move a hair from the corner Asorn had ordered him into.  He remained a muscular, brooding shadow keeping a careful watch on what was transpiring in the room. 

Heedless of both the guard's look and Lachem's raised eyebrow, Asorn pressed on.

"To compare them to the elven form, . . ." He began before pausing as he searched his mind for a specific word.

"Odd."  Lachem commented softly into the air emptied suddenly of Asorn's words as the Mardish lord, still struggling to find the word he was looking for, bent over the woman to take a closer look at her face.

"We Solavar say the same thing about you Mardish.  Except we compare you to something even lower than apes."

"Eh?"  Asorn blinked then looked over at Lachem with a frown.  "Did you say something?"

Just then the woman gasped sharply around her gag and a gush of fluid and blood rushed out from beneath the sheet to spill out onto the floor.  Biting back a curse, Asorn quickly stepped back to avoid being splashed on his fine leather boots then looked up as Lachem moved closer.

"I'd say that an infant human is about to make an entrance into a rather dark and dreary world."  Lachem announced firmly as he waved Asorn back.  The tall Solavar was all business now that the event was at hand.  Snatching away the sheet and letting it drop to the floor in one continuous motion, he uncovered the woman's shaking and shuddering body in one smooth motion, letting the sheet fall to the already stained floor. 

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