16 years previously...
A scream pierced the night, like a knife through butter. Inside a hut on the highlands of Picta, a woman was in labour. The midwives feared for the lives of both mother and child. After 16 hours, a little girl was born. Her cries joined that of the mother. A silent watcher observed the scene though the window. A single tear ran down his face. His wife was dying, he knew.
"Mikhail!" Someone was calling his name. The Skandian moved towards the rectangle of light that was spilling out of the doorframe.
"What is it?"
"She wants to speak with you." The midwife looked up at him.
"She hasn't long to live." Mikhail moved past the midwife into the hut. His beautiful wife was lying in the bed covered in a bloodstained sheet. She looked up at him as he approached.
"Mikhail." His heart broke at the obvious effort it took her to say those two words.
"Hush now Elaine. All will be well." Elaine shook her head and reached for the baby. The midwife placed her daughter in her arms. Elaine studied the babe for a moment, then turned to her husband.
"Her name is Zoe." In the hours after that, you could hear the Skandians on board Wolftooth mourn the loss of their Skirl's wife. And if you listened closely, you could hear a little girl adding her cries to the lamentation.