Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tayden #8sunday Compilation

With bowed head, Deamante paced in the hallway outside her room, feeling the pinch of worry lines creasing his brows. He alternated between cracking his knuckles and picking at his fingernails. There was no escaping her screams, each cry a heated blade twisting in his heart.

     Still, a dichotomy of emotion brewed in him; joy lingered just under the surface beneath all of that agony. It was a good day—in fact, a grand day for him and Rella. And it was far bigger than just the two of them; this was a grand day for the Dominion too. It was the day his son would be born.

     The door swung open and the old healer burst into the hallway, halting the soon-to-be father mid-step. 
     Motionless for the first time in what felt like days, Deamante's unspoken questions and looming demands weighted the air.
    After dropping his gaze momentarily, a show of respect--or fear, the old man lifted his eyes to meet Deamante’s. Then, without waiting for the ruler's unspoken thoughts to find voice, he said, "It’s nearly time. If it is your wish, your Sir-ness, please come inside."
    Deamante hurried behind the old man, almost stepping on the healer’s gown where it dragged behind his heels; he’d follow him anywhere.  Today, in his eyes, the old man was just shy of being a god. He was, after all, the man who would soon oversee his son's passage from beyond the sacred veil, to this side of the Divine mystery. Never had a day been so wonderful, so perfect, and so gut-wrenching. 
    After scrubbing his hands vigorously as instructed, he stretched his arms in front of him toward a waiting aide. The jittery helper slid a gown onto him then fumbled at his neck--tying the knee-length cover closed.
     Deamante took a deep breath and fought to relax, but apprehension filtered through him from the top of his head to his toes. When he finally willed his feet to move, his cat-steps were soundless as he approached the bed where she lay. A lump formed in his throat when he looked into a face that seemed foreign, almost deformed by the agony.  Desperate eyes blinked up at him while a low moan, little more than a whimper, escaped her.
    Leaning close to her, the healer’s tone was firm when he said, “It’s too soon to bear down. Just breathe.”
     Deamante bent to whisper in her ear. “Listen to the healer, Rella.  Put the child first; he’s more important than you or me.”
     When no comprehension registered on her face, it came as no surprise to him. Weeks ago he’d met with the healer, and had been told what to expect when the time came. And every word spoken that day was proving true. When she was imprisoned by the pain, her sole focus was to free herself from the hellish bounds where neither thought nor reason had stay.  
     The gilded doorknob rattled for only an instant before the door flew open and a small woman barged in.  Deamante narrowed his eyes. Not a soul in that room could have missed the hatred when he growled,"Crinda, you're not welcome here." 
     Tossing moon-white hair over her shoulder, she leveled defiant, pale blue eyes at him, then spat, "Perhaps not welcome, but needed nonetheless." Turning away, she walked to her younger sister's bedside. Rella moaned and Crinda leaned close to her and crooned, "Look at you, my beautiful little Rella, lying here in the sweat and determination of a woman."
    Deamante bristled at the sound of her voice.
    On the other side of the bed, the healer worked his hands nervously, wringing them over and over again. Sweat beaded above his eyes as they darted from face to face. 
     Deamante looked away, his eyes coming to rest on the scene outside the window. Looking beyond swaying branches of a wisdom tree, the late afternoon light obscured by heavy clouds lent a strange color to the river beyond. The water itself looked red, capped with pink froth, tumbling and crashing over and around red boulders. Another booming round of thunder rolled above them, snapping his attention back to the room. “It is an omen, an omen of his strength, that something so formidable, so mighty as a storm… will sweep across my son's first breath.”
   Without even looking away from Bella’s face, Crinda accused, “I've read my glass and bones, the real omens. Mine came as a gift; yours come now, false and hollow. Damn your pride, Deamante; you forced this. You stole her away from our people; you took a woman little more than a girl.”
     Undaunted, Deamante fired back, “And look where it has brought us, Rella and me.  Look at the good coming for the Dominion, a son born this day.” 
    Brilliant flashes of lightning came amid deep rumbles that shook the house-- a harbinger of doom. Deamante could see it— the wisdom tree standing so close to the house it was witness to this birth. Its mighty trunk, a lesson in naked strength, gave way to twisted and weak, broken and gnarled branches.  The wind roared through it, shouting to the ruler, but pride numbed his ears. He didn't hear it say, “From the mighty sometimes come the weak, a willow in the shadow of an oak."
     Crinda turned away from Rella's face, and with a voice that carried more sadness now than anger, said, " I've been looking, Deamante, and  don't see good coming; I see sorrow—and most of it was sown a long time before today.”
     The healer leaned over the bed until only inches separated his eyes from Rella’s.“Push!” 
     She grasped the sheets and twisted them as if she'd tear the fabric, then released them and clawed another knot of them into her hand. Her knuckles trembled while she groaned through gritted teeth until Deamante felt like he couldn't take any more. It had been an eternity; how much longer was he to endure her cries?
     The Creator either smiled on him, or took pity on him then; she'd barely begun to push and it was over. Rella's cries were replaced by the babe's defiant squawks.  Deamante remained at her shoulder, unable to form words for the lump in his throat. The beauty of this moment, the joy of this day. His child, his son…son of Deamante.

     Deamante could see the boy's blonde hair, pale as moonlight, so unlike his own dark brown, but a fine match for the mother’s; he was sure it would darken with age. 
     The healer then cut the tie that had bound mother and son for months, and, after giving him a once-over, wrapped the babe in a soft blanket.
     A perfect moment, a snapshot in time... Deamante had never been so happy or so proud. He reached out to take the child, but the healer hesitated before handing the boy to him. In that moment, he saw something in the healer’s eyes, something in the man's furrowed brows, in the very obvious lack of  joy for this birth. And it sent panic through the new father.
     Vacillating between instinctive tenderness and his sense of urgency, Deamante took the child from the healer. Were the old man’s hands trembling? Well, who wouldn’t tremble holding a miracle so tiny, so new? A random thought grasped him as he cuddled his son; were babies really made of flesh and blood, or did life begin of fragile spun-glass and magic?
     He moved the blanket away from the tiny face to get a good look just as lightning splintered the wisdom tree; wood exploded against pink stone walls, shattering the window. In that flash of brilliant light, he saw the face of a savage in his arms, lightning doubling the effect of the pale skin, colorless hair, and blue eyes ringed in violet.
     He couldn’t breathe—as if the air had been sucked out of his lungs. The child fell out of his arms, dropping onto the bed beside its mother.   
     Several long steps back from the bed, the healer fidgeted. His voice sounded tiny and frightened when he asked, “Your instructions, my Lord?”
     Deamante was mum in the deafening silence of failure.
     Without hesitation, Crinda picked up the child and placed him in his mother’s arms. Then she touched his face while clucking soothingly to the boy.
     The baby looked up, seeming to search the world around him, finally locking onto the face of his mother—all that stood between him and what the world deemed his fate. She pulled him close and nuzzled him the way only a mother can when her heart has steeled to protect the new life in her arms. Even the imperfect ones are children of their mothers.
     Thoughts as endless as the stars shining in the heavens raced through Deamante’s mind. They all came back to this one: all that had been beautiful and wonderful in his world had simply vanished when the savage breathed its first breath. He desperately wanted to wake up from what had to be a horrible dream, and discover that the babe’s blood really wasn't tainted and unacceptable. With a growing detachment, he glanced at the wiggling bundle of new life in his mate’s arms. How could this animal have been born of her body? An Albayne! Repulsed by the thought, he pictured the stinger that was surely on the tip of its tongue. His eyes rose to meet Rella’s, and coldness swept into his heart.    
     Crinda,  narrowed her eyes and accused, “I know what you’re thinking, but you are wrong. A mightier hand than Juman has touched this child, and who understands the ways of angels, of divine messengers from the other side?” She spat on the floor and when she continued, it was as if the vilest dirt was rolling from her tongue,”You?”
     Deamante had to look away from her, from all three of them. No, this wasn’t the work of a divine messenger; it was the work of the devil himself.  The realization of what had happened was too much. There was nothing sacred about this. It was quite the opposite-- the most unholy of acts; she had lain with a savage. 
    Disbelief jolted him, immediately followed by doubt clawing its way into his thoughts. He lifted his eyes but what he focused on was well beyond the ceiling, even well beyond the late afternoon's stormy climes. He shouted  through angry sobs, his hands clasped together against his chest as he fell to his knees, “How? How could you do this to me? Haven’t I done enough? Haven’t I fed the hungry and clothed the poor? Haven’t I built a world in your name?”
     After he was done shouting at the only god he’d ever loved, all was silent save for the newborn’s soft baby noises. The small sounds swirled around Deamante, compounding the dizzying effects of grief coupled with rage. He fell to his knees, his breathing a fierce rush through gritted teeth while petrified onlookers didn’t move a muscle
     His breathing grew quieter and quieter until it was finally soundless. He slowly stood, and looking at no one in particular, said, “God does not exist.” There was no shouting, no elaboration, just the strangely controlled proclamation that caused everyone who witnessed it to tremble. Shadows of a vastly changed future flickered in their eyes; an edict had been given.
     The healer cleared his throat twice before his trembling voice emerged, "Shall I do away with it, my Lord?"
      Remnants of tears still glistened on Deamante’s face, but his voice was devoid of emotion when he answered, “Yes.”
     Rella clutched the child against her and screamed,“No! You can’t! I don’t know why—I, I don’t know what happened, but you can’t kill him!” She’d moved beyond pleading; defiance burned in her eyes.
     Time felt suspended in the room that was now  silent except for splattering waves of rain blowing against broken window shards.  Standing in the middle of shattered glass and shattered dreams, Deamante turned to look at her, and with that same strange, controlled voice said, “Whore, you have betrayed me and have no say in this.” Then he turned to the healer and said, “For now, leave it be; it must be public. I’ll send someone to take care of it.” There was no sign of anger, save for the clenched fists hanging at his sides.
      He spun on his heel and departed, with his aides scurrying to keep up
      Collapsing into her pillow, Rella shook with sobs.
      Crinda squeezed her shoulder and urged, “Rella, collect yourself. We have to act now.”
     Rella sucked in a breath of air and held it for a few seconds then slowly blew it out. She looked up and met Crinda's eyes, mirrored pools of summer-sky-blue pain, fear, and longing.  A leftover shudder of a sob racked her when she said, “You believe me, Crinda, don’t you? I was with no other, and I don’t know how this happened.”
      Using the corner of a blanket, Crinda dabbed at the tears on Rella’s face.” “I believe you.”
     Rella reached out and  grasped Crinda’s wrist, then her words tumbled out in a desperate stream, "I think he really will kill him. Please, help me.”
      Crinda tried using her big sister voice, but it came out more a plea than a demand, “Neither of you are safe. You both must go. Now.”
      In the answering silence, Crinda added, “The glass. The bones.”

    Rella’s voice was low and oddly composed when she answered. “The auguries are wrong; I have to stay. But you can do it--you can slip the baby out of here and take him to safety.”

      They were out of time. Defeated, Crinda accepted what she must do. Sliding her  hands to cradle Rella’s face, her gaze lingered for unaffordable seconds, a last fleeting glimpse to register the beauty, the goodness, and the love that existed in her baby sister.


  1. You have been busy indeed! This is very dramatic stuff here! A storm at birth... on a bit of a tangent, I read once that 1 in 10 children has the wrong biological father on their birth certificate, it was a bit of a shocker! Don't know if the stats are true though! Anyway, I hope the baby thrives, wherever he was sourced from xx

  2. Thanks, Lily! Good to see you. Hope you guys are keeping warm and taking care of things across the pond :-)

  3. I read this to catch up. Excellent writing Teresa!

  4. I felt strangely drained by the end of the piece, where Deamante saves the child (in a way) by agreeing to do away with it later. You've managed to create a real sense of drama coupled with a sense of loss - in doing so I feel that you've completely engaged your reader in that, at the most dramatic moment captured in time, when one thinks the child is doomed forever before it ever had a chance. At the end of this section, I gratefully breathed slowly... ah, things will go on from here - nice hook :-)