17: The Thief You Cannot BanishMature

“M’lady! Your water’s broken! It’s time!”

Calysta’s visage waxed pale. All this time waiting, preparing and she still felt unready. Where is Gillireth? she wondered. Even if he would not have been allowed to watch, she would have felt better knowing he was home and not off fighting. The queen was nervously ushered into a nearby guest chamber and onto the bed.

“Well…” one of the midwives looked nervously at the other.

“Don’t you know what to do?” Calysta asked. “That cook, Eileen, she trained you, didn’t she?”

“Y-yes m’lady. Eileen’s a real obstetrix, you know. Except, we didn’t get any sort of… field experience. We’ve never seen a birth. Oh, I’m awfully nervous now!” she shook her hands about and frowned.

“Go find Eileen, then. Now!” Calysta was in no mood for last-minute surprises. Eileen and another young lady servant arrived within the hour, as did contractions. Hours passed in pain and Calysta lost track of the time.

Finally, it was time to really push; it was time to bring the prince into the world. The young servant accompanying the obstetrix grew more and more concerned until, finally, she cried, “This is awful! I can’t see it. I don’t want to. I’m never getting married!” She flew out of the room in a state.

Calysta moaned in agony. The baby was partially out now, though Eileen had not said anything of the sort. She had been working quietly through the duration, but this silence was for a different reason. One more push from Calysta and her travails were over. Eileen took one look at the infant in his entirety and fainted, striking her head on the stone floor.

Calysta caught her breath as the ladies-in-waiting rushed to check on the infant primarily and then the midwife, who was sprawled out on the floor, entirely unconscious, half-lidded, and possibly dead.

“Oh, no…” Calysta heard. She lifted herself up delicately to see what the fuss was about, but deep down, she already knew: the baby was born in wulfen form.

Upon seeing the pup, she covered her mouth and fell into hysterics. To go through all this, only to have a child that she would never be able to explain to her husband.

“What will I do? What will I do?” she chanted over and over. “Gillireth--” her throat stopped up. Gillireth would never understand.

At length, it was decided that everyone would be told that the baby was stillborn, and under the guise of mourning, Calysta stayed isolated in her bedchamber, tending to her son. Eileen never awoke from her head trauma, and while there were murmurings among the servants, no outright accusations of foul play were ever made.

Being in wulfen form, the prince’s cries were much quieter, and if ever someone heard him, Calysta disguised his crying with her own.  If ever the whimpers were heard on the rare occasion that the queen was absent from the room, it was said that it was the spirit of the child, a rumor which served well to keep guards and staff from entering.

Only the ladies-in-waiting were allowed to visit the queen in her chamber, as was the strict instruction she gave. Calysta knew nothing of what would become of her or the child upon the king’s return, but she still had such love for her son that she took the liberty of naming him herself. Faelan had the amber eyes of his mother and a coat which was a bluish dark grey on top, fading to white at his stomach and around his face. There was no sign whatsoever of his human side.

Being born in such a way had always provided an advantage to the Dechi, because their children became able to walk more quickly and were much less dependent due to their quick growth. On the contrary, it was nothing but a curse in Calysta’s eyes. Even so, a part of her still clung onto Jarrah’s words, that her son would somehow bring peace. Those words were all she had in the way of hope.

A messenger arrived a few days after the birth, and the news was relayed to the queen that the battles with the Alfar had become a troublesome affair. The king and his armies could not be expected back for a month at least. Calysta was, above all else, grateful for the chance to bide her time. She imagined the confrontation with her husband time and time again in a hundred different ways, but the result, even in her fantasies, was always rejection. The messenger was kept in the dark about the unfortunate transpiration of events the day before; Gillreth’s emotional state could not be compromised on the battlefield.

Time hunted for Calysta as always, intent to swallow its prey sooner or later, and the queen had begun to come to terms with this threat. Perhaps any peace she had ever had or hoped to gain had been stolen from her, but she would never stop fighting to secure her son's future, no matter what the cost.

The End

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