Taylor shook her head. “This is a discussion for both Aarden and Illiya. It involves helping Aeden, who helped us.”

Kaz-ur nodded. “We will wait for the full story if you wish, spirit-mother. And Kral has requested that ten Aarden come down for our visit. That is a lot of bread and jam.”

Taylor grinned. “Plus yourself and Samook, so an even dozen. I’m sure they’ll make enough food.”

Kaz-ur looked closely at Taylor. “So full of secrets, I can see them in your eyes. But we will help, I could refuse you not. Are we needed to fight?”

Taylor shook her head. “No. Just to help Aeden, but it will require... dedication.”

Kaz-ur curled his lip.“We are very dedicated to Aeden and Fusen-ra. Now, how have you been?”

“The morning sickness hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought it would be.”

Kaz-ur narrowed his furry eyebrows. “You have been unwell?”

Taylor shook her head. “Not really. Increased hormone levels during early pregnancy can make you feel ill, or even throw up. I’ve only had a few days like that, so I count myself lucky. Some pregnant mothers have trouble holding food down. But I still have my queasy mornings.”

Kaz-ur glanced at Samook, then looked back at Taylor. “Fortunate for us this does not happen, then. It would be a waste of good meat.”

Taylor smiled. “Yes it would, and it’s not a lot of fun. But how are things going for you here?”

“Quiet since the invaders fell, but the village is half-empty. It will be a long wait until the next Asook cycle, and we hope that Aeden will be generous in providing us new juveniles. We have forbidden the hunt for Vaseth ears until then. Our numbers are already too low.”

Smudge looked up at Kaz-ur, licking her lips.

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