A Heavy Destiny, Part 1

Good morning, threes of fans!

In keeping with my vision of sharing more original writing with you all this year, I dug up this old piece of backstory about Maeve. This bit takes place just after Connor’s birth, and if you read carefully, you might find some hints in here about where the books are going in the future.

This section was so long that I split it into two parts, so tune in next week to see where it goes from here!

Enjoy!


She didn’t know how long it had been, but when Maeve awoke, she was back in her hut in the Sidh village, not in Culain’s estate house. A baby cried nearby. A baby? Why is there a baby in my hut? Someone sat in a chair next to her. “Culain?”

The person next to her stood. “Culain went home. It’s Rhiannon.” The woman walked across the dark room. Maeve heard her pick up the crying baby, shushing the child with quiet sounds. “Now, love, let your mother rest.” The baby started suckling and quieted, and Maeve slept.

Maeve woke later when the baby cried again. This time, she sat up and looked around. The midwife Rhiannon was going to the small cradle again. “No, wait. Can’t I suckle her?”

Rhiannon turned. “I’m sorry, lass. Your milk never came in. You have been in and out of sleep for four days recovering from your birthing. The child needed feeding, and Culain said–”

Tears stung Maeve’s eyes. She nodded, and Rhiannon turned back to the little bundle. “Can I at least see her? Is she healthy?”

Rhiannon hesitated. “Let me suckle the child first. It will be easier when the little one is satisfied. But the babe is healthy–perfect, really.” She put the baby to her breast, and Maeve saw a dark head of hair against the wetnurse’s body.

Maeve took a deep breath and slid shaking legs over the edge of her small bed. It took nearly all the energy she had. “Where is Culain?”

“At the estate. He thought you would be more comfortable here, so he had you moved. He’ll be here later.”

Maeve nodded. “What happened to me?”

Rhiannon met her eyes steadily. “It was a very long birthing. The child was too big and turned the wrong way. When the babe came out, you bled so much that we thought you would die. Your Sidh healers had to use the animstone to restore you.”

Maeve rubbed a shaking hand over her face. “I’m still so weak. Will I be all right?”

“You need food, yes? Meat, if you can stomach it.”

“No meat.”

Rhiannon scoffed. “Then cheese, at least.” She paused. “I did what I could, yes, but your healers fear that you will not have any more children.”

Maeve closed her eyes, holding back tears, but she nodded. “It’s the way it’s always been in my line. One daughter from each queen. At least she can be my heir,” she whispered.

Rhiannon said nothing for a time. “How do you know this one can be your heir?”

“I could sense it when I carried her. She has all three talents–air, stone, water.” Rhiannon rocked slowly, suckling the child, saying nothing. Maeve finally opened her eyes. “Is she done? Can I hold her yet?”

Rhiannon looked at the baby. “Done enough.” She pulled the baby away from her breast and stood, wrapping the blanket around the tiny form. “Before you take the babe, you should know, lass–the child is a boy. A son.”

Maeve’s hands shook; her stomach lurched and a cold tremor ran through her body. “A son?” she whispered. “No–how? I can’t–I was supposed to have a girl–an heir. How can a boy have all three talents? Only girls can have all three talents. This isn’t–a boy without the codagha who has all three talents–” She closed her eyes again. “He would be monstrous.”

“Monstrous?” Rhiannon’s voice carried an edge. “Bah. This boy is perfect. He’s healthy and strong and handsome. He looks like his father–and his father is already making plans for training and hunting trips for this boy. He is a child mightily blessed to have Culain Mac Niall for a father.”

Maeve opened her eyes again. “Did Culain name him?”

“He named him Connor.”

Maeve nodded. “Connor.” She held out her hands. “Let me hold him.”

Rhiannon put the bundle in Maeve’s arms. Maeve cradled the small head in her elbow and traced the baby’s face. Black hair, brown skin–the Sidh blood ran true, but he had Culain’s jaw and nose. He sighed, contented, against her, and she put one hand on his forehead. The tingle of elemental magic ran through her; there was no mistaking the three talents. “No man has ever been born who carried earth, air, and water. I assumed the child would be a girl with the codagha.”

“Do you love him the less for what he is not?”

Tears spilled over and splashed onto the cloths the baby was bound in. “It’s not a question of love, Rhiannon. Of course I love him. He’s beautiful. I just–I don’t know how to raise a boy with all three talents. There has never been one before. What might he become?”

Rhiannon knelt next to Maeve and the baby. “He will become what he has been designed to become.”

Maeve looked around. “Where is your baby, Rhiannon?”

Rhiannon’s eyes teared and she looked away. “My child died. He was a sickly child.”

The news was another blow that rocked Maeve’s assurance. “Rhiannon, I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

“The One Hand weaves his will, yes? It is as it will be,” Rhiannon said. She wiped her eyes. “If you wish, I can stay with you and the child until he is weaned.”

Maeve nodded and then looked down at the bundle again. Devotion welled up, but also fear. Her tears fell harder. I don’t know how to raise you. How are you even possible? She drew a shaking breath. “Culain only had daughters with his wife, and when I sensed the magic, I thought he would father another girl. I don’t know how to raise a son. A half-human son with all three talents?” She shook her head.

Rhiannon wet her lips. “There is one other thing. There was a visitor–the wisdomkeeper.”

Maeve’s blood ran cold. “You didn’t let that old witch near my child?”

“She’s not a witch.” Rhiannon’s voice was edged with steel. “She is the keeper of the tribal wisdom and the chief earth guardian on Taura. She was called here by your pains.” Rhiannon paused. “The boy–he will bear the mark of the raven.”

It was too much. “Ravenmarked. With all three talents.” Maeve looked at the baby and then held him close to her breast and sobbed. “W-what will h-he become?”

“He is as he was designed. The earth, Alshada, destiny–whatever you wish to call it–something has a great purpose for him.”

Maeve cried. How? Alshada, how could you do this? The ravenmark–only a few men had it, and not one in a dozen generations, as far as Maeve knew. They were the earth’s avenging angels–those who killed to restore balance and justice to the earth. “It’s against our ways,” she whispered. “The Sidh bring life. We honor life. How can my own son be destined to kill?”

Rhiannon put one gentle hand on Maeve’s arm. “It is as it will be.”

Maeve lifted one hand to wipe her eyes and steeled her resolve. “Does Culain know? About the talents and the ravenmark?”

Rhiannon shook her head. “No one knows about either except me, and I only know of the talents because you just told me.”

Maeve nodded. “Fetch my animstone.”

“Lass?”

“I need it. I’m going to make sure he never comes into his power.”

 


Come back next week to find out what Culain thinks about all of this…

Have a great week!

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