Midwifery

This myth was given to me by my sister Marie.

“Give us the child!” Chenek’s servants had been standing outside of the house all night. Mariam was wringing her hands as she saw to her daughter-in-law and the infant they wanted so badly. She could feel her humanity acutely as their menacing energy outside clashed with the quietly incensed Brhenti’s across the room.

The goddess–her daughter, she reminded herself, though it felt so unreal now–crossed to the door. She seemed to be considering something.

“What are you going do, my Lady?” Surely this wasn’t a betrayal. Brhenti had no love for Chenek, and she wouldn’t break an oath of hospitality.

Brhenti simply drew her sword and threw open the door. They pressed to rush inside, but she threw them all back, pulling it shut behind her and blocking it with a spell. “Enough!”

She watched from the window. Brhenti approached the group. Their leader appeared, brash and cocky, full of well crafted words breathed into hir by Chenek and dripping through hir smirk. Xie spoke as if xie addressed Brhenti, but Mariam felt hir eyes steal over to her. “We know you have suffered loss! We know this has been hardship. We mourn the death of the son and the brother, too. But it was our Lord’s will, and what is willed must be!”

Brhenti could be fair minded. And for all her warring with Wodanaz, she enjoyed a bit of banter, rhetoric, verbal sparring even. But her own mother was a human in her care now, and Brhenti could feel her feelings: grief, regret, love, worry.

And here this being–this mere servant–talked of rules and ideologies and greater goods. Xie had been still blustering proclamations as she stood and thought.

She cut hir off, acknowledging nothing but hir first statement. “You know nothing of loss. But you, you and your Master will.”

She struck them as a group, hacking in them before half of them could raise their weapons. She cut them to pieces with blood and limbs flying. Only the leader was able to fight her, and xie couldn’t last for long. She artfully dismembered hir.

As their blood congealed into alkahest–they were not given a measure of power strong enough for it to become bloodstones–she gathered the bodies and rounded up the nearby fair folk. “Guard them.” She commanded, “Guard the women inside. See to their needs. Let no one in. Protect the baby. There will be a sign over the cradle. Let none of your kind take her, or you will have my vengeance.”

And to this day, there is a sign that Brhenti’s people use, to keep their children from being carried off by the fae–most of the time.

Into her private forges she went. She had priests, she had the Artificer to do her work for her, but this she made personal.

Most of them she left to rot in a pile. The leader, she dragged hir pieces over to the anvil. She had heard in the Anqa’s land, they had reprogrammed some of these beings. Today, though, she was going to remake this one from the ground up.

Weighing her options, she threw the first piece into the fire.

Gavriel immediately appeared. “Please, Lady.”

“I am working.” She threw another piece.

“What are you doing with my brethren?” Their voice sounded pleading.

“Nothing, with them. Something, with this one. But not a one of them is returning to Chenek, ever.”

Gavriel’s eyes widened and xie looked away. “I am not here on Chenek’s behalf.”

Brhenti dumped the rest of the being into the fire and turned. “… Are you not?” There’s a particular kind of curiosity and suspicion that comes over a deity who hears a servant has become a free agent.

“No. I just… please, Lady, please let me have them, so that they may go in the ground. There is nothing I can do about myself yet, but I can at least give them new, free lives.” Gavriel bowed low.

Mariam had told Brhenti all about the messenger. Brhenti still felt herself flattered by the prostration, though. And a little intrigued. “…. You may have them. But, they may not incarnate here. I wish to never see any of them again.”

Gavriel left with the bodies as quickly as possible, before the goddess could change her mind. The band was buried together, and even now, together they come back in each life.

But not the one Brhenti took. She beat hir with the hammer, melted hir in the fire, quenched hir in the waters. The goddess broke down the being’s celestial energy, letting much of it drain out. Everything that existed of Chenek’s work she broke into pieces, burying deep and sleeping what she couldn’t remove. Hir spirit she separated, using part to make a soul, and part to make a body.

He wasn’t recognizable to hirself when he was done. He rose up a man, the chief of her priests and the greatest of her warriors. And as soon as he was conscious, he bowed himself low to her. “My Lady….” he mumbled, awestruck love for his creatrix washing over him.

“Who are you?” she asked, knowing Chenek had carefully named each of his models.

“Who would you have me be?”

She chuckled. “That of you I decided to bend to my purposes when I first laid eyes on you: you will be Connacht. For your will and your desires.”

And the name has changed over the years with the tides and the religion, but there is still a family Connor who serves the goddess in her temple-kirk in Kildare.

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