Leena sat on the floor of her wherhole, dangling the abused corpse of a wild tunnelsnake above the head of Samantha, her treesnake. The treesnake was wrapped loosely around piece of scoria carved to resemble a tree branch, attached to a natural stalagmite left by the original carvers of the wherhole to be used as a place to set a water bowl or the like. Beneath the "branch" was a tiny coal stove, with wetted moss stacked atop it... the resulting damp heat infused the porous scoria and made a decent simulation of a tree branch in a jungle, the natural habitat of Samantha's species. Usually the treesnake only used the branch while Leena was sleeping, spending Leena's waking hours wrapped around the neck of the blackhandler and leeching her body heat, but recently the treesnake had become more unwilling to leave the branch as her body had grown thick, like a sausage.
At first, Leena had been concerned that the treesnake had become ill, and the swelling was the sign of an infection or the like. However, after some inspection by Se'ng
, who had become an increasingly common sight in the blackhandler's presence after discovering she was the owner of a treesnake (one of the only two in the entire Weyr), he determined that Samantha was, in fact, merely pregnant, the swelling being the result of eggs growing inside her body. It seemed that the other treesnake that had made its way back to Dalibor from the Grove Expedition was, in fact, a male, and nature had taken its course at some point with the male tunnelsnake finding Samantha by way of pheromones or the like, and apparently their encounter had resulted in eggs.
Samantha eventually snatched the dead tunnelsnake from Leena's grasp after she had shaken it about enough to simulate live prey... normally Leena allowed the treesnake to hunt on her own, if supervised, but ever since she had become more sedentary as her eggs grew inside her, the woman had shown increasing concern about her eating enough to support both herself and the growing eggs, along with worry about Samantha's ability to hunt on her own with her increasingly egg-swollen body. Se'ng had come to the rescue once again, bringing her fresh prey to feed to Samantha... prey that Leena suspected he extracted from the mouth's of his own tunnelsnakes, considering the fresh injuries he often bore on his forearms and hands when he dropped them off, injuries that looked like the marks of the needle-sharp teeth and claws of an upset tunnelsnake that didn't want to give up its kill.
As Samantha settled in to swallow her prey, Leena's eyes wandered over to the other side of the dimly-lit room, where Se'ng sat on the edge of her bed, watching the feeding carefully. She hid her eyes beneath her curtain of black hair, not wanting to make her inspection of him overly obvious, hoping that the dim lighting in the room that his non-wherhandler eyes weren't as adapted to would disguise her focus. Something about the man had started to draw Leena's attention beyond mere friendship... though considering she was the first male friend she's ever had, she had no idea how legitimate such feelings were, or if he felt anything in return. For all she knew, he was here merely for Samantha's sake, and his Beastcrafter interest in the unique specimen she represented, and saw Leena as just a means to an end. Unfortunately, Leena's lack of experience with socialization as a whole, not to mention the opposite sex, meant that she had little to no frame of reference to understand just how much of her feelings were just as a result of actually being paid attention to by someone for any reason, and how much was actual, deeper feelings for the attractive young man.
Looking away towards Samantha again, Leena moved her hair behind her ear nervously with one pale hand as she smoothed her skirt out with the other. She had even found herself dressing differently since Se'ng had started visiting her wherhole more often once Samantha had become gravid, dressing more for appearance than for blending in or disappearing... for the first time, she actually wanted
to be noticed. Today, she found herself wearing a knee-length light grey dress that hugged her slight frame, with a bodice that scooped to show a modest amount of cleavage (appropriate, since Leena's slim body had only a modest amount of cleavage to show at the best of times) and long, form-fitting sleeves. Since she hadn't left the room yet today, she was barefoot. In the dim light of her wherhole, the color of the dress along with her pale skin likely made her look like some kind of ghost, but unfortunately Leena was far from an expert in fashion to realize such. "How long now do you think until she lays her eggs?"
Leena asked, her whispery voice directed at Se'ng
across the mostly-empty room... the woman was not much for decoration, and her fur-covered bed was her only furniture beyond a surprisingly large chest-of-drawers with a small mirror and washing bowl atop it, and Leesk's stone couch, which was currently empty... the wher was out getting food, as he had learned to dislike Se'ng's visits to their wherhole, since Leena increased the light level for the man's benefit to the point where no shadows large enough for Leesk to hide in existed anymore, and so he found excuses to be elsewhere when Se'ng came calling.@Ives