PROLOGUE:

"That's it. That's my girl." The old midwife praised, gripping the hand that clung to hers. "You're a strong, strong woman and will soon have your sweet babe. Are the pains still strong? Then take a breath and push again."

The young laboring woman -no older than twenty-four years-glanced up, a weak, trusting smile lighting her face that was matted down with her long blonde curls, damp from sweat; she was a tiny woman, both in height and physique. But her eyes held a strength and willpower that would put any man to shame.

"Yes, Takara" she agreed with a gritted whisper. Then, tensing, she bore down with all her might. The contractions soon passed and she fell back, exhausted. Beads of fresh perspiration rolled down her round, flushed cheeks as the old midwife continued attending to her slow-emerging infant.

"It's almost here, Reira. Its head has made it through..."

The soon-to-be-mother's heart leapt happily to her throat at the news-but there was very little anyone could do to hasten the emergence of the shoulders, which suddenly seemed too large for the passage.

The hours-upon-hours struggle with the difficult first-birth seemed as though it would have no end...

But then the clock struck twelve. As its resounding chime signaled that midnight was here, the shoulders at last slipped free. And the baby was finally born.

Almost immediately, a heavy silence befell the room- the only sound was of the midwife's own panting breaths mingling with the ragged rasps of the awaiting mother. The babe however, was completely quiet and still.

"Why isn't it crying?" Reaching down the front of her shirt, the old midwife pulled forth a small blade that she carried between her ample breasts and swiftly but carefully cut away the umbilical cord. Then with the baby in her arms, she wrapped the bloody infant up in a soft towel and gently began rubbing it down.

"Takara...?"

Responding to its mother's voice, the babe suddenly gasped with life, choking quietly before uttering a strangled cry.

The sound, weak at first, grew in strength until it filled the small room- bringing relief, joy and an unmistakable satisfaction that was overwhelmingly felt by both the midwife and new mother with each shuddering, indignant little breath the babe took.

Takara lifted her age-old grey eyes to Reira and offered a bright, unhurried toothy smile.

"She's alright." She informed as she carefully rose to her feet.

Reira Yamamoto gave a subtle gasp of delight, "She?"

"It's a girl." Moving over to a small table beside the birthing bed, Takara poured a vase with warm water into a porcelain basin. Then, after freeing the infant from the confinements of the blanket, the old midwife gently placed the crying baby girl inside to wash away the remaining bloody goo that still coated her skin.

As she wiped the unhappy infant down, Takara's movements slowly came to a standstill as her grey eyes took notice of something awfully peculiar. At first, she thought it was just the discoloring of the water, maybe even the room's lighting...but then she looked more closely at the squirming baby in her hands...and realized it was neither of the two.

Lifting the clean baby out of the bath who's skin bore a healthy pink tint, Takara's eyes ran the length of her tiny infant body and found herself frowning out of perplexity. "I...in all my years...I have never seen something like this..."

From her spot on the bed, cushioned by pillows on all her sides, Reira wearily sat forward with concern, trying to desperately catch a glimpse of her newborn daughter, "See what?"

Takara moved over to the young mother's side and carefully handed the naked baby off to Reira who took it tenderly with receiving arms. "The marks..."

The young mother cradled her whimpering infant close to her bosom, allowing her eyes to carefully look her newborn over. Sure enough, there was indeed a strange discoloration on her baby's skin- black stripe-like markings ran down the side length of her body. They started from the tops of her shoulders and made their way down her arms, continuing lower onto her ribs, hips and legs before stopping right at the ankles of her feet.

Reira calmly brushed a tiny striped arm with a caressing finger, then she gently moved her hand up to cup her daughter's head, stroking her thumb across the light patch of aqua-green hair, no thicker than peach fuzz, that was already growing. "What do they mean, Takara?"

The baby, with her eyes closed shut tight, restlessly wiggled in Reira's arms as her tiny mouth opened with another cry. At once, the young mother rocked her gently, cooing quietly. "There, there, little one...it's alright..." Soothed almost immediately, her baby relaxed and obediently settled back down to brief little whimpering noises.

The old midwife watched the pair as she slowly shook her head, "I don't know...markings such as those don't just appear through genetics. At least not on a newborn." Takara shifted warily on her feet, "...something about it just doesn't feel normal..."

Reira's blonde head turned sharply, fixing Takara with an abrupt cool gaze as she subconsciously held her tiny daughter closer to her breasts as though she feared her child would suddenly be snatched away. "Doesn't feel normal?" she repeated, frowning subtly at Takara's word choice, "...my baby is alive and healthy, isn't she?"

"She appears so, yes..."

"So why does it matter if she bears some interesting birthmarks?" Reira's defense was swift and firm though her face carried a steady air of calmness. Turning her attention back onto her baby, the young woman stared down into the little resting face she gave life to and started to smile, "...I have a feeling that they'll make her unique."

Takara gave a silent, agreeing snort, "You can say that again..." This child's looks will stick out like a sore thumb among the other villagers, she thought knowingly. Approaching Reira's side once more, she laid an aging hand on the baby's belly, "So what will you call this little oddball?"

At the playful jab, Reira bit back a smile, chewing her lower lip with her teeth as she vigorously contemplated the question. Her eyes never once left her baby's face as they traced her every detail over with fine accuracy. "Hmm...what indeed..." she replied tenderly. "I want my daughter's name to have meaning after all..."

Leaning down, the young woman planted a warm, motherly kiss across the top of her baby's forehead. The girl infant stirred from her rest, her face scrunching with light displeasure from being woken up before her features once again softened a moment later. Then, she opened her eyes.

Reira felt the very breath leave her body the instant her daughter's eyes met her own for the first time. Unlike her own which held the welcoming color of summer violets, her daughter's eyes were far darker-they were swirling orbs of rich indigo.

"Such beautiful...intensive eyes..." Reira adoringly murmured the words out loud, feeling her heart swell by the second with an unshakable love that only a mother could understand. In that moment, she knew the perfect name for her daughter.

"Sayomi..." The young woman declared with a nod of her blonde head, "...her name will be Sayomi."

"Sayomi Yamamoto, huh?" Takara repeated the name thoughtfully before smiling. " ...a suitable name." she settled.

Reira smiled down on her tiny baby girl in her arms, "My precious, little night beauty..." She kissed her daughter's head once more, "...I will always love and protect you."


Author's Note:
Hello my readers :) I hope this post won't confuse you. Recently, I just decided to make an actual prologue for introducing my character into the story. And let's be honest...the 'intro' I had first constructed was pretty crappy being that I was only a high schooler when I wrote it. I think this will be a far more satisfying replacement. And with that said, I will be going through all the chapters I have written so far, (targeting the oldest ones mainly) and will probably be making slight tweaks here and there. Nothing will be seriously altered, its more for grammar issues, clarifying purposes...you know, adding better depth to the characters (Like finally giving Sayomi a last name xD so excited about that by the way) and making some chapters seem more smooth and rounded than choppy. Anywho, that's all for now. Enjoy your readings! :)