"I've made my diagnosis."

"Good." Vaarsuvius irritably tied up a red robe, hiding a pale body from view and shivering despite the heat, brushing off stray sand grains and glaring a little at the flimsy tent surrounding them. "I still do not understand why I had to strip and allow you to touch me."

The human cleric sighed softly, shaking her head in a very beleaguered fashion and rolling her eyes. "Believe me, it was essential."

"Well please tell me what is wrong, prescribe the proper medication, and tell me what this costs so that I may go back about my business."

Blackwing popped into existence on his master's shoulder, having disappeared to avoid seeing the elf's naked body. He gave his master an affectionate little nip on the ear, provoking a twitch from it and a half-hearted scowl from Vaarsuvius, but little else. The human woman shifted her weight, frowning. "You won't be doing much, I hope. You're pregnant."

"What I do is none of your…" Vaarsuvius paused, frowning at the woman and the tenseness leaving thin shoulders. "Excuse me?"

"Pregnant. You are pregnant."

"…" Vaarsuvius's mouth opened to speak, then closed. Blackwing let out a loud squawk, jumping up and flapping his wings in distress, jabbering things in raven that no one wanted to understand.

"Are you sure about this?"

"Yes. I used a spell to make sure, and all of the symptoms check out. Mild cramping, backache, nausea, swollen and tender breasts—"

"I do not need my symptoms reiterated!" Vaarsuvius's pale face flushed, reluctant to be reminded why Durkon hadn't been the one to go to with the symptoms, the elf lightly jumping down from the examination table. "Well, do you know where I could procure termination?"

The woman's lips tightened a little, but she refrained from spitting out what was obviously going through her head. "I wouldn't suggest trying to do anything here," she said carefully, running a hand through her dull brown hair. "Your particular sub-race of high elf is rare around this area. The herbs we have for pregnancy termination are meant for humans and could be very dangerous for you to try to use—they'd be much too strong and could kill you. You can't try a surgical procedure here because the tents don't keep out the sand; grains could get inside you and cause a potentially fatal infection. Not even the best healer could take out every sand grain."

"So you suggest that I travel while with child?"

"I suggest that you stay with the father until you give birth. Surely you can wait until then."

Vaarsuvius made a quick dismissive gesture, Blackwing landing on a small shoulder with another squawk. "My business cannot wait so long, and being with the father is completely out of the question."

"Ma'am, if you need to travel, at least inform the healer in your group that—"

"No," the elf said bluntly. "My situation is my own business. It will not impede my performance."

"You'll start getting bigger, your breasts will start hurting more, your speed will diminish, your nausea can turn into out-and-out morning sickness, your back will get more pained… I am certain that this will hurt your performance. Delay the adventure or step out of it."

"That is not an option for me." Vaarsuvius brushed the sand off of the red robe. "Tell me how to handle the symptoms and give me your price."

The woman sighed, closing her eyes in annoyance. "I have some prenatal vitamins that double as a treatment for the pain. Stay away from alcohol and monsters that cause paralysis, intense heat, intense cold or poison you. I hope I don't need to tell you what an induced miscarriage can do to an elf of your build."

"Quite honestly, I forget that I am capable of child bearing most of the time. I have never paid attention to such trivial matters."

"It's not trivial now. You're too slim and physically frail to handle childbirth without the help of a healer, and an induced miscarriage would be extremely dangerous. You're too thin and your hips are too slender—it wouldn't pass properly and you would either tear something or get a serious infection."

"Spare me the details, please." Vaarsuvius scowled a little, slightly suspicious of the cleric's motivations behind her vehement discouragement of anything that would result in the loss of the fetus, but knowing nothing about pregnancy or the wideness or slenderness of hips, the elf had to concede without a fight. "I hardly care about infertility. It was never my intention to have children in the first place."

"You'll risk more than infertility, especially out in the desert. Remember the sand grains I told you about?"

"You do not need to repeat yourself. You do not want me to terminate the pregnancy, intentionally or no." Vaarsuvius frowned, starting to pace a little. "You certainly know more about this than I, however, so I am forced to trust your advice. I shall do as you say."

"Good. Listen, once you're out of the desert and in a sterile hospital, you can do what you like. There isn't a cleric's spell for termination, but there are people who can do it manually without hurting you in hospitals. Please don't try a home remedy."

"Madam, I am not a fool. What else can I do to deal with the symptoms?"

The cleric frowned. "Keep a good diet. Keep a good exercise routine. Try to not exert yourself." She turned and started rummaging in the trunks she kept in the corner of her tent. "And take these."

She straightened and handed over a simple glass jar filled with pink capsules, devoid of a label. "These are the prenatal vitamins I was talking about. A quick tip: you might want to keep the father's hands away from your breasts until after the birth. If they're that tender now, you're in for a rough ride."

Vaarsuvius flushed, trying to ignore the twinges of pain that merely came from the robes pressing against a small chest. "I do not believe that that shall be a problem." The elf took the vitamins carefully, putting them in a Bag of Holding attached to the inside of the red robe. "What is your price?"

"It's free of charge when it comes to pregnancy. Personal policy." The cleric ran a hand through her hair. "I really do think that you should tell your healer. Your hips are extremely thin and your weight is below the ideal of your gender, height, and species. Your body is going to take a beating with supporting a baby. And I urge you to tell the father."

"Neither will know if I have any say about it." Vaarsuvius dipped a delicate head carefully. "Thank you for your help."

The raven still grumbling in a bird language, the elf left.

---

"Pregnant? Pregnant?!"

"Blackwing, I do not want to talk about it."

"Screw that! Vaarsuvius, this is serious!"

"I know."

Vaarsuvius irritably wrapped the red robe tighter around a pale body, glaring at the ground. "We need to procure diamond dust for Durkon. I believe I saw a shop selling spell components this way…"

"Oh no. No. No, no, no." Blackwing nipped the elf's ear impatiently, almost drawing blood. "You are not changing the subject! You are not ignoring this! Hell. No."

Vaarsuvius winced, rubbing the wounded ear. "If you are going to bite me, you are not allowed on my shoulder."

"Stop trying to change the subject!" Blackwing nipped the elf's finger, scraping through several layers of skin. Vaarsuvius jerked the hand back. "This is way bigger than some affair with the enemy, Vaarsuvius! You're pregnant! Pregnant!"

"I do not need you to tell me, infernal avian!"

Vaarsuvius plucked the raven off of the little shoulder, glaring at him fiercely. "I have enough to work with presently." The elf let the raven go. "This is a setback. I will deal with it on my own."

"Haven't you learned anything?! Trying to do stuff like this on your own ends up badly!"

Blackwing's feathers were thoroughly fluffed to the point where he looked comically alike to a ball of fuzz trying to point at the elf sternly.

"This is a matter of my own body and I shall treat it as such."

"By going crazy and running off to an island on your own to get attacked by an angry mother dragon and make a deal with fiends?"

"There are not any islands nearby, so I suppose that that is out of the question," Vaarsuvius said dryly, walking past the bird.

"Vaarsuvius, slow down and think about this!"

"I cannot. If I start, I will not stop. It is better to ignore it and make sure that no one else knows."

"How do you expect to hide it?!" Blackwing flew up to the elf's shoulder again, digging his talons into the soft skin. "This is an interracial baby. You don't know how goblin pregnancy works. What if you need to give birth before the end of the journey?"

"The likelihood of that is almost nothing, considering the complexity of goblins and elves, including the length of elven pregnancy. It could not have been shortened so much. When this adventure is over, assuming that we will still exist and be rooted in the mortal world, I can simply terminate."

Blackwing threw up his wings. "What about Durkon?! You're going to start showing off symptoms. You're going to eat more, trance more, need painkillers when the backaches and headaches get worse… He's a cleric who specializes in healing for goodness's sake! He'll see that something's up!"

"I will curb my increased desire to consume anything other than what I usually do and will avoid trancing any longer than eight hours. I will do my best to cope with the pain, but I doubt that Mr. Thundershield will read so far into something as simple as an increased intake of painkillers as assume that I must be in the condition I am in."

"And the morning sickness?"

"My parent once informed me that she did not suffer from it while she was carrying me. Assuming that such things are genetic, I doubt that that will be an issue."

"V, you'll kill yourself like this! At the very least, you're going to need to eat and trance a little more!" Blackwing let out an irritable squawk. "You're going to be doing it for two, now!"

"At most, I can only be a few weeks along. I will be able to handle it without allowing too many outward signs to show." Vaarsuvius put a lock of royal purple hair behind a pointed, twitching ear, remembering the feel of a familiar scaled hand doing the same and aching a little for its touch. The elf crushed the feeling swiftly. "Let us focus on the diamond dust."

Blackwing huffed in irritation. "One last question before you go on your inevitable downward spiral and I'm stuck pulling you out again—you're going to a gate. Xykon is going to go to a gate. Redcloak is going to be with Xykon. What do you say if you guys meet up at the same gate? It's his kid, unless you've been doing something that I'm not aware of."

"He is the father, I assure you." Vaarsuvius stopped short behind a tent, frozen in place and eyes closed. Blackwing shifted nervously, tempted to ask if something was going on but somehow aware that words would shatter whatever it was the mage was doing. The elf brought one pale knuckle up and bit it hard enough to leave marks, letting out a deep breath and opening violet eyes again. "He is the father. He will not know, though. There was nothing in our affair besides passion, understanding, and lust. I doubt that he cares as much as he seems to think he does. A child would only make it even more complicated for him and myself. I will not inform him of any of this."

"Remember that thing about 'probability serving drama like a copper-piece harlot'? Yeah. We all know that he's going to find out, V. And the Order, too. Rule of Drama demands it."

Vaarsuvius lapsed into silence.

"Hide it all you want. You know I'm right. When he finds out, what are you going to say?"

The elf remained silent.

"Well?"

"Nothing."

Blackwing frowned, letting out a confused warble from deep in his throat. "Come again?"

"Nothing. If we are in a situation where he finds out, we are also in a situation where we are fighting. The affair was just that—an affair. Nothing long or meaningful. I made a mistake and put too much trust in spells to protect me from problems such as this. He held back only once to allow me to escape. He will not do so again. If he finds out, that is another reason to kill me." Vaarsuvius sighed softly. "I was too weak to kill him once. Even if this child is his, I will not allow myself to be so feeble-hearted again. If he finds out, nothing will change—I will try to kill him and he will try to kill me. Only one will come back this time."

The elf straightened, brushing off the red robes and starting off again. "I have no desire to speak anymore of this."

Blackwing let out a sigh, nipping the tip of the elf's ear gently. "I guess I'm sticking with you through this again."

Vaarsuvius gave the raven a quick stroke on the wing. That said more than words would.

The elf briskly walked into a magic components shop, stepping past a fat wizard with a white turban and a frog on his shoulder…

A/N

Beginning the next part of the series. Hope you enjoy. ;)