#FlexFriday (ab flex 😏) Light helping the abs coming out and lower belly pouch is finally starting to go away 👐 and following #IIFYM which allows me to keep my mental sanity and end my cravings for peanut m&ms, cookies or cereal once in a while 😹
Absolutely. Pregnancy can be so difficult on self esteem. So many changes happen during such a short space of time that it is easy to feel self conscious and therefore alone and low. We really do need to show women that what is happening to their bodies is natural and beautiful. For example how often on parenting blogs do mums worry over sagging breasts or stretch marks, a belly pouch etc. but their bodies nurtured life and that is amazing. It would be so fantastic if there was support available for mums who do feel different in their skin as a result of pregnancy.
I thought I’d take some time out to appreciate the pouch. Other people may find this disgusting and overzealous but I find it inspiring. I have always been pretty stacked. I have never been truly skinny in and of my childhoods. Or adulthoods. I have gone through bouts where I’ve attempted to make myself skinny by any means or become physically fit by the worlds standards. I’ve gotten so sick due to unforeseen circumstances and lost tremendous amounts of weight and gained it all and more back. Though maybe a person may look at me and say I’m not obese I stare at this pouch everyday of my life. No matter the weight loss this Gut has always been there for me. Whether I wanted it to or not. I was sad to learn it’s been giving the awful name of FUPA. But that’s life. What I hope to do is just bring awareness to the world. Many of us struggle with weight especially us women and even more so young girls trying to fit in. But whether it stays forever or leaves it should be appreciated. And celebrated. Not discriminated. Fitness is awesome but you don’t have to demean parts of people bodies in order to promote it. I’m sure no one will really even read this but I say #POSTTHEPOUCH and be shame no more.
Rhea breathed slowly as she walked through the main gates of Stormwind. It had been a while since she had been here last and the city didn’t seem much different. She had gone back to the manor after leaving the keep to change into her old SI:7 uniform. It was a bit snug around the belly, but the pouches of her belt and the daggers Ero had given her seemed to cover it well. She had put the hood from her cloak up to help hide her ears , though even with it down, it’d be hard to spot them since she had pulled her hair up and over the tips just so to hide them. Once in the city, she turned down the streets to make her way to the SI:7 headquarters.
The city was busy like it always was. The ‘Office’ of the SI:7 group was empty all except one human girl sitting at a desk and writing on some papers. She was humming to herself while sipping on her Gnomish Vanilla Coffee that she had picked up in the Cathedral district from a street vendor.
Rhea stood at the desk for a moment, watching the girl before clearing her throat. “Pardon, where is everyone? I was hopin to speak with Graves, should he be around.”
She jerked and looked up to her with bright blue eyes. She blinked a few times before tilting her head, “Um…I’m sorry, who?”
“Graves, he’s one of our agents.” She began to describe what she could of how he looked, at least what she could remember, and whatnot. “Last saw him about a month ago.”
She blinked and spun around in her chair before opening the folders and looked it over curiously before humming lightly and searching. She blinked a few times, “Um…is he new?” She mumbled loudly.
Rhea stiffened a little as she looked inward to Tricks. “New…? No no… he can’t be new. We saw him here and at the manor about a month ago. Somethins not right here…” Rhea cleared her throat again to the girl. “While you’re lookin in there, mind checkin on anyone named Graves or Johnson.” She had head Ero mention a Jacob Johnson last night and didn’t want to miss a chance to look into him if given.
She blinked a moment before looking back to her. “Jacob Johnson?” She turned and looked up to Rhea before tilting her head again. “Jacob was labelled a traitor by SI:7 a few years back. He had managed to talk some fellow agents into going with him in search of some Pirate Lord by the name of Dusk. He was one of two who joined at the same time. The other is his partner in the scheme. He was found a month ago to be in line with Jacob and still sending men and women to help Jacob. But Graves…we haven’t had a Graves in the Agency since…” She blinked, “Since the SI:7 was founded I believe?”
“Can you get me all the information on this Jacob Johnson and his partner? I have reason to believe his back around these parts again, posin under the name of Graves. The quicker the better on it, please.”
She blinked before turning and looking in another drawer. “Uh…I wish I could, Ma'am, but there is nothing on them…” She furrowed her brows and turned around looking to her. “Nothing on Graves, nothing on Johnson, and nothing on his partner Oliver.”
Rhea growled behind her mask before closing her eyes and calming some. She looked to the girl again. “Jacob Johnson and Oliver….? He has to have a last night, right? Mind tellin me so I can go find this shit myself then?”
She frowned and nodded, “I’m sorry ma'am. I don’t know why the papers aren’t there. His name is Jason Oliver.”
She nodded to the girl then tipped her head in a bow. “Thank you. Sorry for takin your time, miss.” She turned to leave, pausing for a moment in the door. “By the way, how is Mathis doin? I haven’t spoken to him in sometime.”
She nodded, “He’s fine. I’ll tel him you came by Agent…I’m sorry…who are you again?”
“Morrow. He should remember me. Thank you again.”
She nodded before turning and going back to her work.
Rhea quickly slipped from the building, heading back down to the fountain. “Jason Oliver and Jacob Johnson,” she muttered to herself. “Two little names in a vast see of faces and I dun seem to be much closer to findin either one…”
Tricks sighed a bit, “Johnson and Oliver…I don’t know those names either. Maybe Zarrin would?”
“Maybe.” She found herself walking to the benches overlooking the lake behind the cathedral district, taking a seat under one of the trees. She reached into her hood, turning her com to their privet channel. “Zar, you copy?”
Some one sat down beside her and pushed a pistol barrel to her side. “Turn the com off.”
She stiffened slightly before clicking the com off. In her mind, she looked to Tricks and to Sorrow. “This is goes south… Sorrow, will you go to Zarrin?” Sorrow nodded, slipping down into her shadow to be ready. Rhea glanced to whomever sat with her, though didn’t move or turn. “It’s off.”
The person nodded as he pressed the pistol closer, “It’s lined with shadow poison, not taking any chances with any ilk from Dusk’s grasp.” He shoved a box into her lap. “This is for Dusk. Make a move when I get up and the sniper will shoot you.”
“Understood, but what’s to stop me from leavin this here when you are gone? Or takin you and your friend out here and now? Yes, you have that lined with poison, but who’s to say it’d work on me? Who’s to say I even know who this Dusk person is?”
He chuckled and pulled something from his pocket. He handed her a developed picture from a goblin/gnome camera. It was a picture of Rhea in Zarrin’s arms some months ago. “Wanna keep lying? And that box has something to do with his Reachlings. The red head failed to kill him last night thanks to you, this is the punishment.”
She paled under her mask and hood. She was loosing footing here and she knew it. She gingerly turn a bit to look to him as she took the picture. “Besides livin, what do I get out of this? Cause tell you right now, Dusk ain’t around as of last night.”
“He still lives, we saw him moving around at your base. You kill him and we let the two we took free. Got it?”
“No. Simple as that.”
He shook his head, “Take a look in that box before you decide. Move before a minute is up and you will be shot.” He stood up and began to walk away.
She watched him as he left, trying to take in anything of him she could. She wanted to remember who he was and where he was heading. “Sorrow, tail him at a distance…” Sorrow bowed and followed as she could through the shadows after him. Rhea opened the box, looking inside. Inside was the outfit Tressa was wearing at the tournament minus her panties. It was burned and torn in several places. And sitting on the outfit was Tressa strung up next to a cage where Tai Zhi was sitting in. Tressa was hanging from the ceiling by her wrists. Her hair was covering her face, but one could tell it was her by the tattoo on her ribs. She was bruised, had burn marks on her, and had a few spots where it looked like a hot metal bar was placed against her body. She didn’t look alive and if she was she was in horrible pain. The shackles on her wrists had blue speckles in them, a mineral that sapped magic from those who touched it. Tai Zhi, well what looked like a big black bear with one missing ear and blood matting his fur, sat against the bars closest to her in his cage. He was nude as well, though his fur covered his body and his left eye was swollen shut.
Tricks stared in horror as his anger began to grow. Rage flooded Rhea as she looked at the picture. She looked through the box to see if there was anything else in there, just in case. If there was nothing, she packed it all back in there. She wondering if it had been long enough, but she didn’t care, she bolted from the bench, running down the road in the direction the man had gone. This was one of the few times she wanted blood on her blades, not because of payment or honor, but for revenge. Rhea turned the corner just in time to see the man wave at her from the other side of a closing portal. She chased after him, tripping to the ground. “BASTARD!” she screamed out. She didn’t care if someone heard. She didn’t care if the Stormwind guards came to question her. She was livid.
Tricks growled and looked around her, “Mask get up. We have to leave. We have to get this to Zarrin. To Rukk. To some one who can track!”
“Right.” She threw off her cloak, it’d only get in her way of running back to where Hazard was hidden, darting through Stormwind, bumping into anyone in her path and even jumping over a few. Her hair loosening as she ran, her ears showing some more as she ran for the gates.
Tricks sighed, “Wreckless girl…” He growled loudly leaping from her shadow and stretching his claws out as he followed behind her in a massive shadow worgen. She extended her shadow to launch herself up to the roofs of the trade district. It was somewhat safer up there compared to the streets. Yes, she didn’t have to deal with people, but she was exposed to if that sniper was still around. Either way, she ran from roof to roof till she got to the first gate, dropping back to the streets to run through. Crossing the bridge and through the second gate was all that was left.
The guards were hot on her tail and fired a few shots. “STOP! HALT!” In common was yelled at her as the shadow worgen behind her turned and roared throwing a civilian at the guards before turning and growling,
“Don’t stop!” He yelled knowing he could be a bit from her before his body vanished.
“Be safe,” she whispered as he pulled from her. She ran hard, harder than she had in some time. And it was wearing her down. Between the box and the pregnancy and her armor being a size too small, this wasn’t the best idea. But she ran out onto the bridge, praying that the gate was still up and that Tricks was going to be fine, and for Sorrow as well, wherever she had followed those men off too.
The gate was open and a man in crimson armor stood by the gate with the sign 'Morrow’ on it. He ignited the sign then ran into the woods. The guards around them knocked out. Rhea perked a brow, following after the man in crimson into the woods, out and free of the city. Tricks would return to her a few minutes later. The man led her to a little cabin, paid the old lady, and sent her away. The man pulled off his mask and pulled his hood down. He was wearing an eye patch, had crimson hair, pale skin, deep green eyes, and long pointed ears.
Rhea kept her mask up and stayed on guard as she looked him over. “Who the fuck are you?” she spat out after catching her breath and getting herself ready for round two, should it go that route.
He furrowed his brows, “Your fucking brother for all you know.” He snarled out, his voice was rough and deep. “I’m saving your ass. The group you’re getting involved with will not return whatever it is they have of your’s. You’re poking a hornets nest.”
“Oh no, I know you’re not my brother…” She looked him over again, holding the box closer. “I’m gonna get her back from those fuckers. No question about that. Then I might kill her myself.”
He lifted a brow, “You’d kill your own kin?” He laughed a bit, “And I thought I was fucked up.” He licked his lips before glancing to her with a brow. “Well, I know where they might be holding her.”
“… how’d you know she was my kin?” Rhea looked him over, backing away to the door slowly, staying on guard. A cold sweat chilling her neck.
He blinked and cursed, “Fuck…” He pulled his daggers and launched himself at her. “I just had to try to make this easy for myself!”
Rhea dropped the box, pulling her own daggers and moving to block his, but managed to catch one within time. She winced as the other clipped her arm, feeling her leathers warm with blood. She growled at him as she pushed him back to kick at the door. “Tricks, grab the box!” she cried out as she kicked it again to open, stumbling outside.
Tricks snatched it up as the man laughed, “Silly girl! I’m after you to lure him out!” He tried to reach back and pull a smoke bomb to throw between them as he jumped back onto the table. The bomb gave off pink smoke that would begin making her feel sluggish as soon as she inhaled.
She coughed, looking back in panic as it started to work into her lungs. As she stood to try to run again, she reached for her com, flicking it on. “Help…” she choked into it, hoping someone would hear. She stumbled forward away from the house as she changed channel again. “Please… help.” Then she hit a button on the side, sending out a ping of her location.
There was a gun shot and a peg leg slammed into the dirt beside her head. The man howled in pain as a slender hand snaked around Rhea’s wrist and pulled her away. She would see a flash of purple before the pink smoke’s effects took over.
Rhea blinked, feeling weak and woozy as she was grabbed and snaked away. “Dun leave the box… I need it.” She kept slipping in and out of consciousness as she tried to get a barring for what was happening. All she knew was that she was an idiot.
Rhea came to about an hour later to a strong, smooth, female voice. “Sheesh, that fuckin’ red head has got some stupid buddies.” She spit off to the side. “So, ye say that the others are after his head and yer mom here wants to find ye little, big, sister? Well, ye uncle owes me for what I helped 'im with back in the day. Ye promise he’ll pay up and I’ll help ye.”
Sinnix sighed as she leaned against the wall, her short hair framing her face as she wore skin tight pants and a tight white shirt cupping her barely showing breasts. “Yeah, I’ll make Zarrin keep to his word. Who was that any way?”
The other voice chuckled, “That was Kalaren who worked for your uncle on the Siren’s Call. The people who is hunting him feel he wronged them for not saving them from the explosion a few months back.”
Rhea blinked again, slowly sitting up and looking around. Her eyes setting on Sinnix for a moment before looking to the other woman. “Who are you? You the one that pulled me out of there?” Her eyes widened for a moment, looking around in mild panic. “Where’s the box?”
Sinnix moved her slender hand and patted the box with a frown, “It’s all in there.” She moved to her mother and looked her over curiously, “Mom…are you okay? That gas isn’t fucking with the shadows, right?” She asked curiously. The woman bowed slowly, “I am known as Teslari Roselight.” She looked to her, her hair falling away to reveal her two ears cut in half missing their tips.
“I’m okay… I’m not sure about the shadows…” She looked around and inward for Tricks and to see if Sorrow was back yet. Otherwise, she looked to the woman, eyeing her ears as she bowed. “Teslari Roselight…. thank you. How are you involved in all this?”
Teslari chuckled as she stood up and moved her left arm, her only arm, to her mouth as she watched Rhea. “He’s never talked about me? I was his bed mate back when he was sailing the seas of Azeroth.” She motioned to her missing left arm. “Cost me my arm.” She then moved down to her right knee where just below that was her peg leg. “And my leg, he did. The price of loving that man is high.”
Rhea stiffened at the words. She never bothered to ask about his past lovers much like how he never asked about hers. Yet it seemed to bother her for some reason. “N-No… he never speaks of anyone from his past. How did you find me? Better question… why are you helpin me?”
Teslari shrugged as she lifted her shirt and showed a nasty scar running across her stomach. “Their leader, Oliver, took something of mine when he found out I was pregnant back in my past. I intend on taking something precious of his.” She snarled before looking her over with a sigh, “And I know from what this girl said, that girl in the picture is your blood born.”
Rhea moved a hand to her belly out of instinct. “Yes… she’s one of the two. Doesn’t help right now that her twin is off my radar. I haven’t met her yet, haven’t spoken to her… but everyone that has hasn’t heard from her in a few days. Hopin that she hasn’t been snatched too at this point.”
Teslari nodded and moved to sit on the table of the run down and empty house. “Well, Oliver has a thing for revenge. This is about yer brother and if it’s because of something blowing up and Zarrin not telling them, then things are only gonna get worse unless they’re stopped. I don’t want him to take any more children’s lives. Ye have my pistol in yer corner, lass. And as for why I know of ye, the lass here read about me in yer brother’s journal.”
“I thought I took that journal from you, Sin…” Rhea said, looking to her daughter before sighing. “Either way… Thank you Teslari for steppin in. Was unexpected.” She reached up for her com, turning to her and Zarrin’s channel. “…. Zarrin?”
Sinnix shrugged, “And I’m a thief.”
Teslari looked Mask over curiously before nodding, “Yer safe here, but that smoke will leave ye disoriented.”
There was no response on the com. Rhea laid back, clearly still feeling the effects of the smoke. “He’s not answerin. How long you think that shit will stay in my system?” She turned to look at Teslari, trying to get a read on her.
She was hard to read. Around her neck was a pendent of a Naaru that hung down onto her clevage, a pistol tucked into her belt, and a dagger on her bare thigh as her shorts barely went to her upper thigh.
Rhea took it all in before closing her eyes. “How long have I been here? How long have you been here, Sin?”
Sinnix chuckled, “A few days for me. As for you, an hour at tops.”
Teslari knelt down and handed her a pill. “Here, eat this. It’ll wash the toxin out.” She took the pill, looking it over before doing as she was told. She moved to her com again, flicking though channels. “Rukk? You have a com still?”
Rukk coughed a bit, “Yeah, I still have a com. What’s up, little raven?”
“Long story… I dunno where I am, but I’m with Sinnix. I dunno if you’ve heard that Tressa is… she’s missin… and bein tormented….” Tears began to fill her eyes. “I got her clothes, might be able to trace the scent if we’re quick…”
Sinnix wiped Mask’s eyes and sighed a bit. “I can have Fear take the stuff to, dad.”
“Please? But… leave the picture here. I want that with me.” She sighed rubbing her face and wincing from her arm reminding her she was an idiot. “How does this shit keep happenin to my family?”
Teslari laughed again, “Something else he hasn’t told ye?” She shook her head, “He never brought up the story of how he pissed Fate off?”
“Fuckin hell… Dun be tellin me that.”
She blinked, “Why? You afraid of something silly like 'fate’ and 'destiny’?”
“No. I’ve always trusted in where fate might lead me…. not one to believe in 'destiny’, but I could be wrong. Mostly cause I dun see how it fits for me. I’ve always assumed it was just fate that caused all the good and the bad in my life, never destiny.”
Teslari smiled softly, “Fate and Destiny go hand in hand, lass. Yer brother belives he is free to sever the chains of fate that bind him.”
“No one can do that… If they could, I would have long ago.”
Teslari leaned back and sighed, “Oh, but he was damned determined to try. That man changed people’s stars all the time, lass. He brought people from nothing to something. Lifted the little guy to sit high above the rest. He was nothing, ye know? A high born tossed aside by his pa and ma only to be picked up by some psycho cult then left in the deser to fight alone for most of his life.” She smiled glancing ot her, “And now he has a side of him as a famous, feared, Pirate Lord and a wonderful family. I believe, entirely, that he severed those chains that Fate has tried so many times to bind him.”
Rhea looked to her as she spoke, falling dead quiet. Teslari was right. “There are days I wonder…” She spoke slowly, closing her eyes as she turned away from Teslari. “I wonder if my fate, my destiny in his life is merely to be in his shadow. I know it’s not true, but there are still moments I wonder it. Like why he made me head of the Shadows… that -cult- you spoke of. But then he smiles and laughs….”
Teslari moved to hand her a bottle of whiskey and then scratched her cheek, “He’s like a drug, isn’t he?” She leaned back and sighed, “Yer not his shadow, not if Dusk is out of the picture. The real man, Zarrin, is a man of compassion and equality. He probably put you in charge because he trusts you.”
Rhea sat up slowly, looking down into the bottle as she took it. “Drug is the perfect term for how he is. Think he’s one of the few in this world I’d give my life to save if it meant he’d have more time to make another smile… Sorry. Been a rough month… two months.”
Teslari nodded to the whiskey, “Not too much. A little shouldn’t hurt the babes.” She scratched her jawline before chuckling, “He is somethin’ special, thats for sure. I’m not sure what it is about 'im, but he is somethin’ worth fightin’ for.”
She stared into the bottle still, oh how she missed whiskey… She uncorked the bottle, taking a longing swig of it. She smiled, almost looking like she could cry again. She needed that. “He’s somethin… Somethin indeed. Just happy I got Dusk to back down last night and locked up again. This could have gone a whole different direction.”
Teslari nodded, “He sent me to my death, ye know? Dusk I mean.” She moved her hand to rub on the nub at her shoulder. “The price of trusting and loving that man in the past was high.” She motioned to Sinnix who was outside talking to Rukk on the com. “From what she said, Zarrin is in control and a wonderfully protective man.”
“He is. I dun think I could trade him for anythin.” She smiled at the bottle softly. “It’s the little things with him sometimes. Like how he lit up when he found out it was twins… or when he first found out I was with child… Or even when we first found each other and that we had each other.”
She smiled looking at Rhea with a nod, “He cried a lot when he was younger. Out at sea after we’d share his bed. He’d cry because even though he had people, he knew he was alone. Or he thought he was.”
“He did?” She took another swig of the whiskey slowly.
She nodded, “He doesn’t know I know, but I watched him from a crack in the door. Dusk was a mask, something he could hide behind. He just wanted some one he could love and be loved. You, your family, those babes mean more to him than anything else in the world.”
A blush warmed her cheeks. She felt the same to a point. She was coming to realize she needed him, that he was part of the void she had felt over her years. She cleared her throat, not wanting to go into where she stood with him, as she looked up to Teslari. She offered back the whiskey, knowing that if she didn’t give it back, she might finish it.
Teslari took it and nodded, “Should go home, spend the night with him, and prepare for a fight. I’ll send word when I find out more.”
“Thank you again. Contact me through the coms, I can leave you my frequency or send word to Ravenholdt. Should find me either way. And thanks for the drink. It was needed.” Once Rhea was well enough to travel, she gathered her things, kissed Sinnix on the cheek goodbye and that she’d be home at the manor the next night to be with her and Rukk, but she needed to go spend this night with Zarrin. She was surprised to find herself in the dark of Duskwood when she stepped outside. Through the darkness of the trees, Rhea couldn’t tell what time it was, other than late. Hazard had managed to follow her scent and waited for her outside.
The cold night air was welcomed after the mess she had been through that evening. Jason Oliver. Jacob Johnson. These names echoed in her ears over and over, as if it was a mantra she hoped to keep as they flew back up north to the cove. The flight was long like always, but her tired eyes were grateful to see the Vanishing Sands waiting for her.
Rhea did her best to make her way into the main cabin and was surprised the door was unlocked and a few candles were still lite for her. Aless sat up in bed, reading with Zarrin sleeping, his head on her lap. She looked over to Rhea as she slipped in.
“I had a feeling you’d come tonight,” Aless whispered, running her fingers through Zarrin’s hair softly.
“How do you always know these things,” Rhea whispered back, already knowing the answer. It was the same answer she had gotten for years from this woman.
“Do I really need to say it again, Rheannon?”
Rhea stiffened at the name. “You know I haven’t been called that since my mother was alive. Dun start it now,” Rhea hissed quietly to Aless.
Aless smiled as she flicked a finger to turn back the bedding for Rhea to join. “I merely tease. You look like you had a rough day. I’ll let the crew know in the morning to draw you a bath and get those wounds looked at better. For now though, I think you need as much sleep as you can. More so if you are planning on getting our daughter back…”
There was a level of sadness to Aless’ voice that Rhea had never heard before, but she herself was beginning to know. The feeling of lose of your child. Rhea nodded, stripping down for the night, to her panties and one of Zarrin’s looser shirts, as Aless turned back to her book, humming softly. Rhea took a moment to make sure her thigh and her arm were cleaned and dressed before slipping in next to her brother. He shifted slightly to lay on his back again, curling his arm around Rhea and pulling her close. Shortly after Rhea had dozed off, Aless closed her book, sending it back to her deck and waving the candles out.