I'll give you a set up. This scene is Carlynn and Ghorgon, you remember them from the prologue in Fable, are running from the Rebels. They find some reprieve over night in the Colrok caves. Enjoy!
Carlynn could keep silent no longer. An agonized scream escaped her.
In one quick motion, Ghorgon was at her side. “What is it, My Lady?”
Teeth clenched, she was unsure if the words would come out. “The-baby—,” she managed.
Ghorgon re-lit the dead torch with embers from the fire. He grabbed the blanket she had thrust aside during a particularly painful spasm. “We need to leave for Tyré…now.”
She looked into his face, unsure she could rise. “Does the role of midwife so frighten you?”
Ghorgon hesitated. When he answered, he stumbled over his words, “It is the child, then?”
She wanted to slap him. Her belly felt tight, but the pain did not come in waves as the midwife said it would. Carlynn had no urge to push. The intensity would increase with movement, but without any regularity. There were spasms in her tailbone and her inner thighs ached. Perhaps this misery is due to riding…“Katchet!” she cursed. “I know not!”
Her protector froze—mouth agape and eyes wide. That got his attention.
In the span of a heartbeat, he seemed to come to his senses. He bent down and slipped his arms around her midsection. “Allow me the attempt to deliver you to a knowledgeable practitioner.”
Carlynn slapped him away. “Cease! I shall not mount that horse in this agony.”
“Please, My Lady. At least try…”
“Have you lost your hearing? I will not go.”
Ghorgon stood, brows knitted, arms crossed. “If the pain stops as it did before? Would you then agree?”
She looked hard at him. Still angry, she realized that his training involved removing souls from this world, not bringing one into it. “Yes,” she agreed as the pain eased. “If they stop, I will allow you to haul me up onto that beast…”
Ghorgon moved the water skin and rations next to Carlynn. She reached for them. The twisting resulted in a piercing sensation as though she had been stabbed in the back. It radiated all the way to her neck. “Katchet!” she screamed, again.
“Hot water,” Ghorgon mumbled. Then louder he said, “My Lady, I will fetch fresh water and wood for the fire. If the child comes, we shall need boiled linens…my tunic should suffice.”
“I thought you lacked midwifery skills.”
As he turned away from her to head into the dark, he said, “Yes, but I have foaled several horses.”
A rebuttal to the oblique insult danced on the tip of Carlynn’s tongue, but she remained silent. As the pains subsided, she leaned against the nearest boulder and took another sip of water. Counting on her fingers, she calculated the span between the blessed news of her pregnancy and this day. A sparse eight moon cycles have passed. The midwife said it would be at least nine, perhaps ten before the birth. Too soon…too soon.
By the time Ghorgon returned, the pain had lessened to a dull throb. He dropped his meager supply of wood by the fire. “This was all I could gather. I fear the closest water source is back the way we entered.”
“Worry not, Ghorgon. As was your hope, the pain is now tolerable. The lengthy ride may well have been the source of my suffering.”
Ghorgon dropped his bundle. Twigs tumbled across the stone. He rushed to her side. “Thank the Gods! Let me assist you.” He helped Carlynn to her feet. “The exit is not far. Can you walk?”
“I am with child, not an invalid,” she retorted.
Ghorgon handed Carlynn the torch, prudently remaining silent, and collected their belongings.
Abatos walked slowly through the dark, winding passageways for what seemed like eternity. Ghorgon led the animal, as Carlynn held onto the saddle’s side rings. The tunnels seemed to go on forever. She feared that they would never come to the exit. The panic that threatened to rise quickly subsided when she spied a glimmer of light at the edge of the next corner.
At the mouth of the cave Ghorgon halted Abatos. “Remain here,” he told Carlynn. “I need to scan the area to ensure it is safe.” He disappeared around a corner.
She petted Abatos’ neck and thought about her new baby. What would she call the child? Names floated in her head. ‘Raynok’, of course. But…what if the babe is a girl? Wishful thinking. There has not been a first born female in over ten generations.
Ghorgon’s voice reached her ahead of his form. “It appears the path is unwatched.” He walked Abatos to a fallen tree. Carlynn lumbered onto the log and steadied herself. Ghorgon helped her remount the horse, before he swung up behind her. Well positioned, they headed into the forest.
Cold nipped at Carlynn’s cheeks—winter was coming. The crispness filled her lungs and sharpened her fears. It meant the death of summer. The death of Raynok attested to the knowledge that all things die. The fallen pine cones and wilted fall flowers scented the air. The Gods tell us that death is a cycle. Carlynn cradled her belly and whispered to the child. “That means you are our new beginning.” The acceptance comforted her.
Movement in the foliage past Abatos’ left haunch caught her eye. A Rebel warrior rushed from cover. An arrow flew at them.
I hope you liked it! Don't forget Toni and I are on Robin Calkin's Blog tomorrow. We will be checking in from Buena Vista. Have a wonderful weekend. Robin's Blog here