And So It Begins
*I wrote this for the Online Xena Convention story contest last year. The contest was to write a bio type story about one of the secondary characters. It could not be about Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer, Ares or Callisto. So, I decided to go with someone near and dear to Xena's heart, no it is not an Eve story. I hope you enjoy it.
The wind howled as the cold rain beat against the thatched roof of the house. Within a small bedroom candles held back the darkness, as those gathered around the bed continued their work.
Upon the bed a young woman screamed as a contraction twisted her muscles. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she gasped for air. Beside her a younger woman held her hand and wiped a rag over the woman's sweat stained face. "Take a deep breath, it won't be much longer now."
The young mother nodded trying to inhale.
Huddled near the woman's raised legs a woman of nearly fifty summers watched closely for the child's arrival. "I see the crown!"
The mother growled as she squeezed the younger woman's hand.
"Breathe, breathe." chanted the younger woman trying not to cry out from the pain in her hand.
"Here it comes! Push! Push!" cried the mid-wife as she reached for the infant. The child slipped free of it's mother's womb and into the waiting world. "It's a girl." Not waiting for a response she turned the child and slapped her sharply upon the buttocks. A pain filled wail filled the air as the child awoke to life.
Inspecting the girl for any deformities, the mid-wife was pleased to find none. Smiling broadly she held up the child for the mother to see. "She's a healthy one."
Tears of joy and relief flowed down the mother's cheeks as she laid back on the pillows.
"Go tell the others." The midwife motioned toward the door with her head.
Nodding the young woman rose and hurried out. Beyond the door they could hear cries of joy from the gathering of family and friends.
As quickly as the celebration began it stopped with an eerie hush. Suddenly the door flew open and the young woman stood in the doorway looking pale. "The seer is here."
The mid-wife looked to the mother with pity, then quickly turned away.
The small group gathered near the door parted as an ancient woman entered the room. Long grey hair hung loosely from beneath the battered hat atop the crone's head. And her clothes seemed as ancient as she did.
Approaching the mid-wife she held out her hands for the child. Holding the child out to the woman, she bowed her head so as not to make eye contact.
Taking the child in both hands the crone held the baby up at arm's length and stared closely at her. Slowly she tilted her head back and forth studying the child. "Everyone out." She ordered not looking away from the child's face.
"But seer we..."
"Out! What I have to say is for her mother's ears only."
Everyone hurried from the room as the door creaked close behind them. Certain they were alone the crone lowered the child to cradle her in one arm. Blue eyes stared unblinking at the wrinkled face and the crone smiled at her.
Unable to contain her fear the mother spoke. "What curse do you bring to my house seer?"
"What makes you think I bring a curse?"
"Because you only arrive at the birth of a child when you have seen it's death."
The old crone smiled. "Tis true, I have seen her death."
The mother felt her chest tighten.
"But it will be many years from now. Long after your bones have been laid to rest."
A sigh of relief left the mother's dry lips.
"No, it's not her death that brings me here."
"Then what?" The mother asked.
"It is her life. Her's is too be a hard one, she will know the joy of family and children. But sorrow will always be a constant companion."
"What of her children?"
"They will be strong and healthy and they're choices in life will bring her joy and sorrow. She will lose a son to Celeseta when he is on the verge of manhood. Her only daughter will become a legendary warrior, this will bring her great pain and heartache. For many years her life will be lonely and she will die a violent death." The crone held the child close and kissed her forehead. "But her sacrifices will be necessary."
"Why? Why would you tell me these things, is she cursed?" whispered the mother.
A deep hardy laugh shook the crone. "There are those who believe a full life is a curse, but they are fearful fools." Shifting the child she leaned over and placed her in the mother's arms. Tracing a finger down the little cheek she smiled. "No, this one has much to do in life. Sometimes her burdens will be heavy, but she will be strong."
Straightening the crone caught the mother's gaze. "So have you chosen a name for her yet?"
The young mother looked up at the crone with a frown. "I have, and I suspect you already know what it is?"
A smile tugged at the corner's of the crone's lips. "I do, but I want to hear it."
Soothing back the small tuff of dark hair on the infant's head the mother smiled. "Her name is Cyrene."
It has been sometime since I last posted a Xena tale, I hope you found this one enjoyable.
Thanks for taking the time to read it.