Spring Planting, Mother’s Day 17, Year of the Lion number 428; February 28, 1739 Agathon; Linne 182
I’m finally on the road again. Yes, it’s been a while since I wrote in my journal, but today was quite the day and I wanted to get it all down.
After leaving Hiltmar two days ago, I crossed the bridge heading south into Gathia, toward the dwarven city of Shrinehall, which is somewhere in the Haughgen Mountains. I hadn’t been across the bridge more than ten minutes when a small green girl with wings landed on a rock on the roadside and called out to me.
She was barely two hand-spans tall. Her skin was various tones of green, which blended with her clothing, which looked to be made of leaves. “Fair stranger!” she called out to me. “Come along with me, for your assistance is required!”
I, of course, was immediately suspicious. A creature of the forest calling to me? “Are you luring me into a trap? Are you planning to rob me and leave me for dead somewhere?”
“Oh, my goodness, no!” She cried. “I’m so sorry! My name is Sapphire Primrose Armesias of the Greenwing Pixie Clan.” She curtseyed most properly.
I returned the gesture. “I am M’Raana Kebize of the Vipertree Tabaxi Clan, a wanderer from far away Czethai. My friends just call me Kebize.”
“Very good! My friends call me Sapp!” She flitted up and toward me, holding out her hand in the human ritual of shaking hands. I held out my hand, she grabbed a finger and we shook. “I guess we’re friends now. Right, Kebize?”
“I guess.” I was still suspicious.
She flitted around in a couple circles. Dust sprinkled from her. I stepped back, not wanting to breathe it in. A sneeze might be harmful to one as small and fragile as this little thing! “Won’t you come with me? A fair lady… well, not a really a fair lady, but a lady nevertheless, is in need of assistance not far from here. I am too small to give her what she needs, and my magic is too weak. Come though! The hour of her need is soon!”
“What can I do to help? I don’t know magic at all.”
“Oh my, Kabize! I am misunderstood and I so apologize! It is not magic that is required. It is the knowledge and experience of a woman. My mistress is giving birth soon. She’s feeling the pain as we speak!”
I held up my hands. “She needs a midwife, not an adventurer! I know nothing of birthing and caring for infants. I don’t know how to help a woman in this time. Perhaps I should run back to Hiltmar and find someone more suitable. That I can do for you.”
Sapp returned to the rock and gently lighted. “No. No one from Hiltmar will ever come to aid my mistress. She is cursed by the evil wand and… Well, it’s best she explains it. But come! It’s not far. We can be there in less than a day.”
I decided that since I’m out adventuring anyway, and there’s no hurry for me to get to Shrinehall, I may as well follow this little green girl. Pixie. “In that case, please lead the way.”
She led me eastward. We followed the river somewhat, though while the river wound through the hills, our path was straight. Sapp kept a pace that was challenging for me to keep up, which prevented conversation as well. Eventually, as the sun was rising the next morning, and I was completely exhausted, she came to a stop and said that we had arrived. On a hill, overlooking the river, was a small wooden structure. She called it a gazebo. Under its circular roof was open framing, where there were a couple wooden rocking chairs and a table in relative shelter. We went past the gazebo toward a rocky outcrop. Hidden in the rocks was a wooden panel that opened easily, exposing a narrow tunnel leading downward. I was surprised to find the steps were covered in cloth and the walls paneled. Several lanterns cast light throughout the underground chamber. Lying on a bed in the second room off the main was a woman – an elf. Not just an elf, but a High Elf. A very pregnant High Elf, covered in sweat and linens, gritted her teeth as a contraction wracked her body.
Sapp said, “My dearest Mistress, I present to you Kabize of the Vipertree Clan. She has agreed to assist you.”
The woman squinted at me. “A Tabaxi? That’s all you could find?”
Sapp landed on the bedpost. “I’m so sorry! She was the only one on the road for several days. It seems travel between Hiltmar and Shrinehall, this time of year, is down. I can go back and try to find someone else.”
The elf said, “No. Sapp. You’ve done well. I harbor no ill will toward you or the Tabaxi.” She looked over at me. “Who did you say you were?”
“My name is Kabize, fair elf. It is obvious you are about to give birth, but as I told Sapp, I have no experience in midwifery.”
“That’s okay, Kabize,” the elf said. “My name is Aurore. Perhaps you’ve heard of me. I’m the daughter of the Elf Queen, Regina. And like her, I’m cursed. But I’ve been through this many times. I’ll tell you what you need to do. Sapp will help as well, but there are things she just can’t do. First, grab that bucket by the door. Take it to the river, rinse it out and fill it with water and bring it back.”
Over the next few hours I did everything I was told and before long, I was holding in my arms a newborn baby boy. His ears and other features weren’t as prominent as his mother’s, but he was definitely an elf. Using warm, damp towels, I cleaned him and gave him to Aurore to nurse. While the two rested, Sapp and I cleaned up the mess. It took an hour to get the stains out of the bed linens. When I returned after hanging them to dry in the gazebo, Aurore invited me down to talk. Sapp brought warm tea for all of us. I thought it odd that Sapp’s cup was the same size as ours.
Aurore said that she is a slave to her curse, and has been under for over fifteen hundred years. Every two to three years, she is overcome by the urge to mate. And the result is always the same.
“I’ve heard of this curse. It denies you your greatest desire, does it not?”
Aurore nodded. “My greatest desire is to give my mother a true-blood daughter who has the power to wield magic. One who can rightfully follow her and be the next queen of our kind. Her curse prevents me from having true-blood children. My curse takes it a step further. I am forced to mate with human men who will be married, and bring to them their son.”
At that point, I realized I had heard this story before, but from a different perspective. I pulled my journal out of my pack and opened it to an entry from less than a year ago. “Dyfar Firebush,” I said.
Aurore nodded. “That was 45 years ago. He is the son of Chalavar Peneon of Hiltmar.”
I said, “I last saw Dyfar a few days after my dearest friend in all the world was killed by a demon. Dyfar was one of the survivors. I left him in charge of the others in Casozali, across the Raubian.”
“You have traveled far, Kabize. I’m guessing you’d like to continue your journey. You may stay here as long as you like, but in return, your help is appreciated, even though Sapp does most of the work. You don’t want to be here when I am compelled to prowl once again. I can’t stop it. I truly wish I could. But for now, I know the peace of motherhood with my son.”
Sapp said, “What will you call him?”
Aurore looked at the child, who was now sleeping peacefully. “He shall be known as Theren Vipertree, in honor of our new friend from afar.”
“I am honored, my lady.” We continued talked for a while longer, but our fatigue soon became too much to bear. Sapp led me to another room and I managed to write this before I pulled the hood over the flame and…
Previous: Through a Cat’s Eyes – 14.3
Aurore’s story is derived from the song, Dance With Me, © 1975 by Steeleye Span, on their album, All Around My Hat. It is based on a traditional Danish ballad, along with another song, Seven Hundred Elves (© 1974, Now We Are Six), which we’ll discover in Kabize’s story about 10 years in her future.