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Old 10-31-2013, 03:15 AM View Post #1 (Link) Birth of a River Child
2sh4r (Offline)
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Note: This is based off a very (very) well-known piece of works, so, as a sort of game, try to figure out what it is as you go along. Please feed back .

Yoki clenched her teeth as a spasm of pain ran down her stomach. Her body went rigid. A moment later, her back muscles unclenched, and she collapsed onto the bed. Her daughter watched wide-eyed from the doorway.

“Mira,” Yoki called. Her voice was hoarse. “The baby is coming. Get Ashama. Nobody else.”

Mira gave a nod and dashed through the doorway.

Yoki gasped as the pain returned. Damn the High King, she thought, repressing another shout. Damn him to the deepest of hells.

Yoki had given birth twice before, yet neither time had been as painful as this one. Both times, midwives had been gathered around her, guiding her. A priest had given her some numbing herbs, and she had birthed in the palace birthing room. Now, all she was allowed were her daughter and Ashama. Now, she had to be here, in this dark basement. And it was because of the The High King’s decree: all newborn slave boys be drowned.

Ashama and Mira appeared in the doorway. Yoki couldn’t see them clearly in the dim light, but she could make out their figures.

“Gods, this room is too dark,” Ashama said. “Mira, get a lit torch.”

Mira disappeared.

“How long has it been hurting?” she asked Yoki.

“I don’t know,” Yoki said. “Not long.”

Ashama grunted. “Breathe deeply. Pray to the gods. It helps.”

Yoki inhaled and exhaled, but she refused to pray. God had abandoned her people a long time ago it seemed. Yoki had held faith when she was younger, she remembered. Her mother had prayed every day, insisting that if they kept faith long enough He would save them and make them kings. She died a slave. Mira had tried praying to the gods of the river people, but they had never answered either. There were no gods, she thought. Or if there were, they were heedless to the pleas of men. If there were, they were like the desert wind: no amount of praying could win their allegiance.

Orange light washed over the room as Mira ran in.

“Finally,” Ashama said, snatching the torch from the girl’s hands. The elderly woman placed it in a sconce on the wall. “You’re going to need to be faster than that if you're to be a house slave, girl.”

Mira said nothing.

Ashama approached the bed. “Yoki, I need you to spread your legs,” she said. “Mira, close the door and roll a towel for your mother. Yoki I want you to bite on the towel. Let us pray this baby is a girl.”

Yoki clamped her teeth around the towel her daughter brought her.

“Stand back. There’s nothing you can do now,” Ashama said to Mira.

Yoki screamed as her muscles contracted again. Thankfully, the towel muffled it.

###

Hours later, Mother lay on the bed, a tiny bundle resting in her arms. Mira had watched as Ashama had held the baby. The old lady had cursed as soon as she saw him. She had cleaned him and cut off the ugly red tube hanging from his belly. Then she had left. When Mira asked Mother why, she had only said, “He’s a boy.”

Mira didn’t know why that was such a bad thing. There were plenty of boy slaves. Except they usually worked in the fields, not the house.

Ashama appeared in the doorway holding a basket. She walked over to the bed and placed it beside Mother. “May the gods grant you strength,” the old lady said before leaving again.

Mother looked at the basket, then at the baby in her arms. She looked miserable and tired. Mira wanted to help, but she didn’t know how.

“What happened?” she said.

“He’s a boy,” Mother said again. Her voice was thick.

“Why is that bad?”

She looked at Mira blankly. There were dark pits around her eyes, and the corners of her lips were drooping. “I have to leave him in the river,” she said.

“Why?”

Mother sighed and said, “It doesn’t matter.”

Mira pouted. It wasn’t working. Mother was only becoming annoyed.

“Let me do it,” the little girl said finally.

“What?”

Mira looked away. She didn’t know if she had said something bad. She had said something bad to Ashama once, and Ashama had beaten her. She hoped it wasn’t like that time. “Let me do it,” she said again uncertainly.

Mother blinked. Silence filled the room. “Okay."

Mira looked up and smiled, but Mother wasn’t smiling. She dragged her legs over the side of the bed, knocking the basket to the floor. Mira knelt down to lift it, and when she was back up, her mother was looming above her. Mother placed the baby into the basket, and Mira got a good look at him. The baby’s pudgy, little fingers were curled into tiny fists, and his chest moved back and forth as he slept. Mira had never seen a baby before. She wondered if all of them looked so huggable.

“Bring him to the river steps, and leave him in the water,” Mother said, her speech slurred.

She sat back down on the bed, her face scrunched up. She looked as if she would throw-up. Mira turned away. Perhaps if she did it faster, Mother would recover sooner. “Make sure nobody sees,” Mother called weakly as Mira walked out the doorway.

Mira ran through the palace’s hallways, her bare feet slapping against the stone floors. Luckily, the palace seemed to be empty today. She arrived at the river steps and peered through the doorway. A row of pillars led to stairs coated in wet mud. Tall, thick grasses lined the river shore, and beyond that, Mira knew, was the vast river.

Sometimes, slaves took baths there when there was no work to do. Other times, the princess herself washed there. Thankfully, it was empty today.

Mira walked through the room and began down the steps. Mud squished between her toes as she approached the river. The water lapped at her ankles, then at her knees. The steps disappeared, and the squishy river floor swallowed her feet. She had set down the basket to push aside some river grass when she heard voices in the distance.

She panicked and leaped deeper into the grass.

“What was that?”

It was the princess. Mira had only heard her voice once or twice before, but it was enough. It was like what Ashama had said once: if you were going to be a house slave, you had to know your queen.

“It might be another crocodile,” another voice called. “We should call the guards.”

Mira did not recognize the voice, but it was probably one of the princess’ friends. She turned and peered through the grass. The princess stood at the head of the stairs, her straight, black hair flowing to her waist. A golden circlet crowned her. Beside her stood another girl who was dressed similarly. A couple of slaves trailed behind them.

“Don’t be silly,” the princess said. “Look, there’s something brown in the grass. Crocodiles aren’t brown.”

Mira’s heart rose to her throat. She had left the basket behind.

“Okay, but it might still be dangerous. At least let Alba do it,” the other girl said, waving at the slave behind her, but the princess was already halfway down the stairs.

She waded through the water, towards the grass. Mira froze. Her heartbeat was so loud she was sure the princess would hear it.

“Gods,” the other girl said, “if it’s something dangerous, I had nothing to do - ”

“It’s only a basket,” the princess interrupted. “One of the slaves must have left it here.”

“You let your slaves bathe here?”

“It’s a baby,” the princess said.

“What?”

Mira watched as the princess turned away and began to climb the stairs with the basket in her arms.

“It’s a baby,” the princess said again.

“Oh.” The other girl paused. “You should put it back.”

“But he’s only a baby.”

“Its a slave baby. Let the river have him.”

“He’ll be eaten by a crocodile, or a river snake. No, his birth doesn’t matter. He’ll live.”

“The High King will not be happy.”

“My father will not harm the baby.”

“But - ”

“Alika. I’m not killing him.”

Alika shrugged. “Okay, fine. It’s your life.” There was a long pause. “What will you name him?” She asked finally.

“I don’t know. Maybe, ‘River.’”

Alika laughed. “Might as well name him, ‘Grass’ or ‘Cloud.’”

“Almighty princess?” Alba said carefully. “Perhaps you could consider, ‘Moshe’. It is how my people say, ‘Riverborn.’”

“Nobody asked you,” Alika said, “and Moshe is ugly. It’s a slave name.”

“No,” the princess responded softly. “I like it. I will call him, ‘Moshe.’”
  
						Last edited by 2sh4r; 12-09-2013 at 12:43 PM.