Siofra

Siofra is a child who no one wants to know about - no one but a giant it would seem. So when the giant is killed by villagers who don't believe in the old ways, Siofra vows to show them the hard way.

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1. The Birth

This hasn't been edited in any way so this really is the rawness of my imagination. Love to know what you think! 

Curling chills of winter whispered through the village. Doors were double-locked against the bite, and also from whatever beasts stalked the night. Very few people stayed outside after dark. Only one soul watched the shadows, huddled close by his bright fire. The watchman had looked out for the village for years. Tonight was no different.

Inside one of the houses, a woman was breaking the hand of the midwife beside her. Through the cracks, the midwife managed to breathe out words of encouragement. "Come on Maya, you can do it. The babe is ready." The woman on the bed let out a moan of pain, beads of sweat lining her forehead. Her eyes were closed, her lips contorted into a grimace.

"It's taking its time," she panted back, her body arching.

The midwife looked to the other woman down at the other end of the bed. To her relief, her apprentice nodded. This was a baby that was going to fight.

In the other room, Warren paced from wall to wall. He hadn't seen his wife for two hours; at the first signs of labour, the women had banned him from entering the room. In the time he had been waiting, he had consumed two dinners, sharpened his dagger and even remembered to put out a saucer of milk for the cat. Remarkable, considering he hated that sabre-toothed terror. The relationship was mutual.

Maya's scream tore through the tiny cottage. Unable to control himself, Warren crashed through to the bedroom, startling everyone in there. The midwife rolled her eyes but did nothing to push the husband away. She had done this a thousand times but men never listened. Unless they were drowning their sorrows in mead.  Her hands were slick to her elbows, her face red with exertion, but the smile on her face made all this irrelevant.

"You have a daughter," she beamed. Taking a sharp knife from her assistant, she severed the cord in a clean sweep. Warren stared down at the mess of limbs and screams, unable to believe that he and his wife had created this child. The midwife caught his stare and smirked. "You can hold her in a minute...just as soon as...."

She trailed of mid-sentence, the smile fading on her lips.

"What is it? Tell me woman." Warren stepped forward, his heart pounding in his mouth. The midwife had frozen, leaving the left side of the baby exposed. Before their eyes, a smudge of black spread, becoming a complicated spiral of loops and curls. Softly, the baby mewled, opening eyes of an intense grey.

"Take it," the midwife snapped, trying to thrust the baby into the father's arms. He backed away, stumbling in his haste.

"What's wrong with my daughter?" Maya sobbed, trying to sit upright, her arms outstretched. Gratefully the midwife all but threw the bundle. Maya frowned then uttered a small noise in her throat.

"She's...why...I don't..."

Warren had been pressed into the corner, his eyes wide as the doe that roamed the forest. Now, he took a small step forward, then another, and another until he was above his wife. Gently, he took the bundle out of her arms, placing a tender kiss on his wife's forehead.

"What are you going to do?"

"Pretend this never happened..."  Warren's voice was no longer his; someone else was staring out from behind the glassy eyes. Maya sobbed, making a half-hearted effort to reclaim the baby. Her hands reached out then fell back to her sides.  With tears slowly trickling like molten jewels down her face, she turned her back and pulled the sheets over her.

With his lips pressed tightly together, the baby's father left the room and entered the freezing night, letting the door slam behind him. As he stormed through the village, he clutched the bundle close, praying that no one would see him. He would say his wife lost the child, she and it were too weak to survive.

The watchman looked up from his fire as the shadow flitted by. Straining his eyes, he could make out the shape of  a broad man, tightly pressing something against his chest. By the way he looked around, the watchman knew he was up to something. Then he heard a soft snuffling and a wail. He knew what that sound was; two children and a fertile wife had educated him somewhat.

For the first time in the six years the watchman had been at his post, he stood up and followed the smuggler. The only dangers to the village were this damn weather and even he wasn't a god. He did a good job, but his powers didn't extend to divine rights.

The man vanished into the bleakness of trees. Pausing for a moment, the watchman stood on the borders. Not only had he heard some of the tales that had come from these woods, but he had also played a part in making sure some of them didn't reach the ears of the population. As for the bodies, he had sworn to secrecy never to reveal their secrets. The creatures in there wouldn't hurt him; he could sense their interest every time he went in, but he never felt malignancy directed towards him. That child however, who knows how they would react.

A deep breath and he ploughed in afterwards, trying to step lightly through the tangled mess on the ground. Up ahead, he could see the silhouette of the man growing smaller and smaller. The watchman put on a burst of speed and eventually came to a halt just a few meters away, using the thick trunk of a tree to hide himself. Hardly daring to breathe, he watched as the man placed the babe down in the roots then turn and thunder back. Shrinking to let him pass, the watchman waited until he was sure the man was gone, then he crept over to the baby.

An arm had punched free from the cloth as the baby gurgled. Even in the weak moonlight that filtered in patches through the foliage above, he could see the black marks.

"Welcome home, child."

 

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