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Silence in the evening was customary for the rather large village of Erimead, for all the townsfolk had retired to their homes to rest for the next day’s work. Yet no one fled from their houses at the sound of ghastly, pain-filled feminine shrieks that emanated from a small, dimly lit wooden cabin that sat near the edge of the community. Nor did anyone rush forth to help at the tense, male shouts that seemed to follow almost immediately after.
In the quaint home, a gruff-looking man stared on in agony at the door that had just been firmly closed behind him as he was unceremoniously removed from the room. Growling, he went to turn the doorknob, only to find that it had been locked. “Damnit Donan! Open this blasted door at once! I should be in there with my wife!” he roared, blue eyes flaring with rage and worry. He ran a hand through his light brown hair in agitation before bashing it against the wall. “Donan, I should be with her right now! I’m her husband, damn you!”
On the other side of the door, a skinny, shriveled old man rolled his eyes at the door. “Chetza,” the man wheezed with barely concealed amusement, “you’re causing this poor girl more angst than the actual process is. Go away and let her be in peace.” In response to the stream of Chetza’s cursing that greeted his latest words, Donan stated, “You may be a Blue Soul, but your intimidation tactics are useless. This situation is in the realm of a Red Soul, so let me to my job.” Rolling deep red eyes, Donan turned to the solitary bed in the room and gave a toothy grin. “Your husband is quite devoted to you, my dear Lesmes. You picked him wisely.”
From the bed, a sweaty, pale young woman’s face contorted as another spasm swept through her body. She shuddered before forcing out the words, “I’m quite the lucky woman, though sometimes…” her voice trailed off as another wail of discomfort grasped her, leaving her gasping for breath. “Sometimes,” Lesmes whispered, “he’s a little too overbearing. Thank you for making him leave!”
The wrinkles on Donan’s face grew as he was bent double with laughter at her statement. “Of course, my dear, of course. Now, what do you say to finally giving birth to this child that has your husband so worked up?” As Lesmes gave him a tense nod, he became completely serious, taking a seat at the foot of the bed. “My dear, I believe you’re fully dilated, so now you’re going to have to work. The next time you feel a contraction, I need you to push as hard as you can.”
Outside the door, Chetza paced back and forth in agitation, rushing to the door each time one of Lesmes’ shrieks pierced the night. Each time, he would begin his shouting anew, yelling at Donan to open the door so that he could be with his wife. When he wouldn’t receive an answer, Chetza would punch the wall in anger before shaking out his hand and cursing about the pain he had just caused himself. Damn that Red Soul, shoving me out of my own bedroom in my own house, the man thought angrily, storming into the kitchen to get an ice pack for his overly bruised hand. Just as he had reached his destination, the most horrifying wail yet sounded through the house. Red Soul be damned, my wife needs me! Chetza’s eyes flared blue as he charged through his house with the intention to break the door down if need be to be by Lesmes’ side.
Just as Chetza rounded the corner, the door to the bedroom opened and a very tired looking Donan stepped out, accompanied by the wailing of a newborn child. “Chetza—” he began, only to be cut off by the blazing blue eyes that met his red ones. As Chetza pushed past on his way into the room, the bald Red Soul livened up just a little, amused to no end by the fire and spirit that were trademark traits of Blue Souls. “Chetza, for the love of Vengard, calm yourself. Lesmes is alright, just a bit tired. This mood of yours will only exhaust her further. And you don’t want to upset your tiny newborn, do you?” he asked, shaking his head in exaggeration at the man as he turned around and squeezed past the staggering size of the younger man to re-enter the room. The elderly man quietly took his place against a wall, knowing that his place was only to watch for now.
Chetza had stopped in the center of the doorway, watching as two younger Red Souls worked to clear away the waste products of the birthing process and clean Lesmes and the bed of the fluids that had been expelled. As they finished changing the bed sheets, Donan gently cleared his throat and motioned for them to step away from the woman, who was propped up against pillows cradling what appeared to be a mound of blankets to her chest. When Chetza still did not move, Donan walked over and pointedly shoved him in the direction of the bed.
Lesmes looked up at her husband, exhaustion and relief fighting for dominance on her face. “Chetza,” she whispered, moving her eyes back down to the bundle in her arms, “come meet your daughter.” As smoothly as she could, the auburn-haired woman freed one of her arms to beckon her fierce husband toward her, slightly shifting her weight to accommodate the child. As the man took uncharacteristically slow, halting steps toward her, Lesmes allowed her arm to drop, brushing a stray strand of hair away from her face. Chetza took a seat at the edge of the bed and gently caressed the sweat-stained face of his wife, placing a gentle kiss on her brow. “You know, Chetza,” Lesmes whispered suddenly, “I was thinking Kisa would be a perfect name for our daughter.”
Chetza looked at the small child, her eyes closed as she gently suckled for milk. He reached out a gentle finger and stroked his daughter’s face, taking in how round and pink it was, with the soft blackish tufts of hair at the top of her head providing accent points. Bringing his eyes up to meet Lesmes’ again, he softly said, “I think Kisa is a perfect name for her too.” The Blue Soul stood and placed another kiss onto his beloved’s head before walking to the silent observer in the room. “Donan, thank you for your services today. Because of you, my wife is alright and my daughter is strong.” Chetza paused after this, struggling to find the next words he wanted to speak.
With a brilliant flash from his red eyes, Donan cut Chetza off. “There’s nothing else you need to say. Clearly you were worried about Lesmes, and worry makes people do crazy things.” The bald man paused and allowed an impish grin before he continued, “You do, however, need to take care of that hand. Red Souls can tell when others are in pain, and you’re not hiding it very well.” Allowing Chetza to nod and mutter an affirmative to his words, Donan became serious once more, staring at both new parents with equal intensity. “As you both know,” he spoke gravely, the levity and wonder of new life having left his face, “before I leave, I must determine what type of Soul the child has, so that you can begin to plan for her future within our community.”
Lesmes nodded wearily, and detached Kisa from her, wincing as the child began to cry in want of more milk. “Of course,” she murmured, “you may do the rest of your duty.” As Chetza returned to her side, the woman, still pale from the night’s events, whispered, “My only hope is that she isn’t a Blue Soul. I don’t think I could bear it if my Kisa had to defend our community or go off to battle like Chetza does. Being a Red Soul or a Green Soul would keep her safe here. There’s no danger in healing or gathering food, yet both are still honored positions, just as Blue Souls are.”
Donan took Kisa from Lesmes’ outstretched, quivering arms and placed the child softly onto the ground. He then unwrapped her and placed the blanket to the side, examining all pieces of the child’s skin for blemishes or other marks. Calling up to the nervous parents, he proclaimed, “She’s definitely of a higher Soul class.” Then, he cautiously opened the child’s eyes to see the color hidden underneath the lids. With a gasp, Donan flung his hands away from Kisa rapidly, which did not go unnoticed by Chetza or Lesmes.
As the now flustered Red Soul hurriedly wrapped the child back into a blanket again, Chetza was the first to find his voice. “Donan, what did you see?” he demanded, placing an arm around Lesmes in a fruitless attempt to calm the rising nerves that were becoming visible in her body and on her face.
Placing Kisa back into her mother’s arms, Donan stood with his head bowed. “Your daughter…” he trailed off, searching for the correct words to tell the anxious parents, “she’s a Silver Soul.” Taking a moment to pause, wise red eyes scanned the looks of anxiety, curiosity, and horror that had appeared on Chetza and Lesmes’ faces. Donan rubbed his bald head thoughtfully before carefully choosing his next words. “I know you both are familiar with the history of Silver Souls within Erimead,” he wheezed gently, recoiling at the sobs that had begun to escape Lesmes, while tears cascaded down her face with the thoughts of what could hold for her precious Kisa.
“Please, honored Red Soul, help us to spare our precious daughter from this fate that has been set for her. You are the wisest in our village, with a knowledge of the Souls that is second to none. Please, help us to find a way to mask Kisa’s Soul from those others, so that she may have a life in peace with her family. Please…” Chetza’s voice cracked, all of his night’s irritations long forgotten as the strain of new knowledge coupled with the stress and angst that had fallen upon his shoulders all evening.
Silence fell as Donan pondered the request that Chetza had plead for. Massaging his bald scalp, ensuring to scratch one of the small liver spots that appeared there, he gazed at the baby, who had begun to suckle for food once more. “There is a way,” he began slowly, analyzing all his life’s teachings to ensure that none of the information he was about to give was incorrect. “It will not last forever, and as her Soul grows stronger, others will be able to sense that she is not what she appears to be.” Donan allowed his eyes to drop as he paced the length of the room, unsure if it would be wise to continue. It was only the faintest spark of hope that had sprung to life within Lesmes’ eyes that convinced him to speak the rest. “Red Souls have the ability to capture the essence of another Soul and trap it within lenses that cover the eyes.”
“Do it.” Chetza ordered, his blue eyes seemingly more intense than they had been all night, having taken on a dark, stormy color. “Please help our Kisa,” he added as an afterthought, deciding that his normal Blue Soul ways would not curry him any favor in this scenario.
Lesmes looked up, her tear-and-sweat-streaked face coupling with her matted auburn hair to create a truly pitiful sight. “Please,” she whispered hoarsely. “Please help Kisa to live an ordinary life for as long as possible. It’s unfair for a newborn to deal with the consequences of the past.”
A raspy sigh was heard. “Very well. You must help this child understand her place in the world as soon as you believe she can carry the weight of this burden. If she allows anyone to know the true nature of her Soul, we’d all be tried for treason, while Kisa’s fate would be sealed from the words she spoke.” Donan paused, watching the new parents for their complete comprehension of his statements. “You’ll need to limit the people who can visit her, as the lenses shouldn’t be worn at such a young age,” he warned, hating the secrecy that he had chosen to involve himself in already. All was forgotten though, at a small, genuine smile from Lesmes.
“Thank you, father. We will keep our end of this bargain to protect Kisa from the people of Erimead.”