This is the first chapter of my Nano project. Posted at the request of ElderG.
PROLOGUE: DEARTH OF HEIRS
She gasped for air.
There was a wisp of wind on the field, a gentle breeze that stirred the full and heavy stalks of rice.
She moaned in pain, agony. The midwife encouraged her, and she took another deep breath and pushed hard.
The guards looked around them; one of them swore he felt something brush his cheeks, but there was nothing. Being a good guard, and one trained against surprise, he looked up, but saw nothing suspicious on the roof as well.
She screamed, grunting with the effort. This babe was truly fighting for its life; she was small, but she was in the wrong position. If she, the mother, couldn’t deliver her daughter, then they would both die. She knew this would be her first and only child; she was not long for this world.
One of the guards came across a drunkard lying in front of the front gates. He nudged him with his foot, but the drunkard didn’t move, so he kicked the man. The drunkard rolled over, and there was a strong stench emanating from him. It took the guard a moment torealise that the drunkard was dead, not unconscious, and by that time, he also realised that he was almost floating, and that he was now next to the grinning drunkard. A pair of soft-soled shoes came into view and kicked him in the eyes; it was that same moment that herealised that he had been decapitated.
She squatted a bit, grunting and moaning with the pain. Gripping the hands of her attendants tightly, she screamed, and with one mighty, final push, brought the babe to the world. The sound of the babe crying her lungs out as she was finally born brought sighs of reliefs and cheers from the many women in the room; most whom were quickly chased away by the midwife’s assistant. They began the cleaning process immediately, with the midwife allowing the woman to cradle the babe for a moment before she took it away to wash it clean. Her second assistant began clearing away the afterbirth, and the woman’s closest attendant stood by the woman, murmuring congratulations and washing the woman’s brow.
The guards had all fallen. All but the ones around the wing where the woman lay, the most powerful fighters in the land hidden and watching the room from afar.
The woman held the babe in her arms and kissed her. She fed the child, all while the midwives busied themselves around the room. One removed the rug in the middle of the room, revealing a trapdoor with a false floor. She removed the floor and the woman passed the babe to her attendant. The child was asleep soundly, looking peaceful. On her brow was a small tuft of blond hair, the color of the sun. “Flee!” the woman whispered hoarsely. The attendant bent down to kiss the woman on the forehead and took the babe from the mother. There was a sling bag on her shoulder, full of provisions. One of the midwife’s assistant took out another babe from a hidden spot, and placed it in the mother’s arms. The other quickly replaced the false floor and closed the trapdoor.
They rushed the door, and unlike the previous encounter this was noisy. Shouts and the strikes of weapons were heard, and it was not long before one of her guards rushed in and urged her to flee. The woman got to her legs slowly, but it was a painful process. Her wounds opened again, but she would not let them take the babe from her. “Mine!” she said fiercely.
They had been preparing for this for a long time now. Everything had been ready, but for the birth of the babe. It was also quite close, for it was the night of Summer Solstice, the perfect time for a child of summer. The harvest was all but ready to be taken in…
The house was razed to the ground, and when the master found out, his temper was great. His mistress and their beautiful child…