A Mother of Ang Village, Eighth Month of 947
“Lisa! Help me get out to see her off!” My daughter shook her head angrily.
“No mother! Imagine if you got ill? Or if this delayed your recovery? How would Lady Stahlia feel then?”
My daughter had a point, but I was not willing to relent here. Lady Stahlia had saved my life, and had now gone off on her own to try and save the village. Even if she had failed to save us, she had brought back information that would lead to the kingdom sending someone who could, at great cost to herself. Or so the rumors one of the visiting midwives had told me went. Even though she was a noble she was, in my eyes, a saint.
I wanted to make sure that I saw her at least one more time. As kind as she was, she was still a noble; it was exceedingly unlikely she would ever return to Ang. I gazed down at my infant son who was sleeping on my breast. “Lili, if you help me to the door, you can hold your brother… I don’t think I will be able to support my own weight without holding myself up on the doorframe…”
My daughter’s eyes wavered. I hadn’t let her hold her brother yet, despite being begged he was only a couple of days old. After a few minutes of deliberation, she stamped her foot, “Fine! But if I wind up an orphan it’ll be your fault!”
I nodded. “Of course, it will be, but don’t worry, a little walk to the door won’t be enough to kill me.” My daughter only glared at me. Perhaps I was being too harsh, her father had been all but confirmed as dead. While she was being strong, it still hurt to lose a parent. But I had to see my savior at least one last time before she left.
My daughter helped me up. Strangely, I had very little trouble moving. The midwives had been suspicious of the herbal remedies that Lady Stahlia had provided me with, but I convinced them to use them anyways. Perhaps she gave me some secret noble treatment? Either way, I was definitely recovering faster than the midwives said I should expect to.
But I knew better than to become overconfident. If Lady Stahlia’s medicines were helping me recover faster, then so much the better. I would still take my time. It wouldn’t do to get ahead of myself and take away Lisa and my son’s sole remaining parent. Other than in this moment, I would take things slow.
Lisa carefully walked me to the doorway, then went back to the bedroom and collected her brother. I wonder what name I should give him? In the village I had come from before the establishment of Ang, it was customary to wait a month before giving a new child their name. Typically, as this boy was my first son, I should give him the name of his father, but since his father died while he was in my womb doing so would bring him bad luck. As such, I had to come up with a different name.
Lisa slipped past me and stood herself just to the side of the door. Word had made its way around the village that Lady Stahlia and Lord Dominic would be departing the village soon after dawn, we were a bit early, as the sun had only just peaked up far enough for a gentle grey light to begin suffusing the world. But I don’t want to be late and miss them. My son is all bundled up, and Lisa is old enough she won’t catch a cold.
Before long, the knights came out and formed a small honor guard, clearing a path for Lady Stahlia and Lord Dominic to walk to their carriage. After a moment, my savior came out and began walking, her maid and two friends followed close behind her. My breath caught in my throat at the sight.
Her two friends were trailing a little ways behind her, like some sort of distance had come up. Especially Sana, the one who had helped Lady Stahlia deliver my son. Lady Sana, who very briefly displayed a look of anguish towards Lady Stahlia’s back as the latter walked down the stairs and between the knights holding back the villagers.
Next was her maid, whose name I didn’t know. This one made my heart skip a beat. Her maid was missing an arm! Maybe the aristocrats can get something like that fixed… but still, just what did they go through? Magic that could fix up a missing limb like that did exist… but it was exorbitantly expensive. For commoners like myself, it may as well be a myth.
But what got me the most was Stahlia herself. As she walked a path towards her carriage, for a brief moment, she was facing me. Her eyes flicked to me, and to my daughter beside me, who was waving her brother’s arms in a mock wave. Lady Stahlia’s eyes. There was something missing in them. It was as though she had lost, or perhaps given up, something integral. Like there was a piece of her that was missing.
As I gazed at her, I felt my words die in my throat. I had wanted to call out my thanks, but I couldn’t find the words. Just what… what did she go through for us…? It all passed in a moment. The boy, Lord Dominic, helped her to board the carriage and she vanished from my sight. As I gazed at the carriage making its way down the road, a word. A very old word from the time of my forbears leaped to the forefront of my mind.
“Stal”. My daughter looked up at me.
“…Her name? You mean ‘Stahlia’?” I shook my head.
“No. ‘Stal’. It means ‘Strength’ in the language of our ancestors. I think it’s a good name for your brother, what about you?”
My daughter thought for a moment before shrugging. “If that’s what you think we should call him then go for it. I don’t have any say in the matter.” After a moment she continued while fiddling with his arms, making him wave them about. “It’s a good name though.”
I smiled and reached out an arm, poking Stal in the face. “Well Stal, that’s what we will call you alright? Grow up big and strong ok?”
More buildup was needed. Votes: 4 8.0%
Eh, it was ok could have been better Votes: 22 44.0%
it was good Votes: 15 30.0%
Build up was perfect Votes: 5 10.0%
Wait, this story has demons in it? Votes: 4 8.0%