I say “this chapter” because there are too many details that developed to wrap up in a single short story. So, here is what we have so far, and next time I can’t think of anything to blog about, we can start the next chapter.
Kylea opened yet another box, and frowned at the jumbled mess of debris needing a place in the new house. The baby in her womb kicked, reminding her she needed to take a break. A sound outside the window caught her attention. She looked outside and saw an enormous crow perched on a twisted branch of her Redbud tree. A severed hand dangled from its beak, a hand bearing a large ring whose gemstone sparkled in the fading light of sunset.
The room spun as the ruby dominated Kylea’s vision. She knew that ring…but it wasn’t supposed to exist anymore. It had been destroyed eons ago…hadn’t it? She pressed against the wall behind her to steady herself.
Her eyes were drawn to the far wall, to the rustic bookshelf and the ancient leather-bound tome in which the spell associated with the ring was recorded.
The baby kicked Kylea hard, driving her forward to the book. Surely there would be something to explain the crow, hand and ring. As she reached for the book, she heard something rattle behind her. She whirled around to find the crow inside her home, still clutching the hand–and the ruby ring–in its beak. How the bird had made it inside, she didn’t know, but it had to have something to do with the ring.
The crow ogled her, the light from the fireplace flickering in its cold, black eyes, unsettling her stomach—or was that just the pregnancy? It didn’t matter. Either way, the crow meant next to nothing. It was only the messenger. But the ring–the ring was a different story.
She swiveled on her heels and reached for the tome once again. With the book in hand she turned back toward the crow just as the child writhed again, this time causing her to double over. As she fell on all fours she dropped the book with loud thud, spooking the crow, which dropped the hand as it made its hasty retreat.
After regaining her composure, Kylea reached for the book only to see the hand now resting directly on top. Holding the tome she contemplated the meaning of the ring. She knew the ring was destroyed eons ago, she had destroyed it herself, when her first husband had tried to reveal their secret. Why was it appearing now? How had the secret that she had so closely guarded even become known by anyone else? Only two other people knew the meaning of the ring, the book and the crow. She had held her husband in her arms as he gasped his last breath those many years ago, so that left only one person.
But her sister had fallen into that deep ravine during the harrowing journey. Could it be? And why now?
As she leaned in she noticed a marking in the palm. “NO!” she gasped, “It can’t be. A symbol branded. The same symbol on the front of the book and glinting from behind the ruby. The mark of the Carrier of the Truths. And if this man was now dead, it could mean only one thing.
Kylea felt a warm gush between her legs. It was time.
Panic set in. Shadow fell across the room, and though the light lessened, the ring’s glow intensified, as if angered by the darkness.
Kylea knew she had to get away, find a new place of refuge, but the birth pangs were in full force now. She knew she could not get far, but she refused to allow her child to be born in the light of that ring. With a scream of anger and pain she rose to her feet and staggered from the room, seeking the refuge of her bedchamber.
She paused at the door and looked at the book upon which the hand and ring rested. She hadn’t believed the old woman who predicted this moment. Hadn’t believed what she said about the baby. But the signs were clear…her child would be…
With a start, Kylea awoke, terrified, in total darkness, still with a lost sister, still very pregnant, and with no books of spells or crows or bloody hands with rings keeping her company.
It was one of the oldest cliches in the oldest myths and tales that she loved to read. But still it was no matter either for scorn or for laughter.
“Lady wife, what is the matter?” Her present husband, Talis, the father of her child, had awakened beside her. “An unpleasant dream?”
“Nay,” she said while still gasping for breath. “A premonition—perhaps a prophecy.”
Talis looked at her seriously. Kylea and those like her often had a gift of seeing the future in symbolic form when they faced a serious threat. “Tell me more,” he said as he rose to seek a candle.
“I can tell you no more than I know myself.” Kylea kept her eyes on the side of his face illuminated by the candle’s glow. Her grandmother had taught her that a severed hand in a dream meant a severed relationship—or severed trust. She loved Talis. Trusted him with her life. Yet the betrayal leading to her grandmother’s death reminded her that anybody could turn traitor if the price were high enough.
The one thing Kylea knew for certain was, she must find her sister. Why had this revelation come at a time when pregnancy made travel nigh impossible? She knew the answer to that question, of course…and it didn’t take long, either.
Stories of courage, strength and all of that noise about overcoming adversity and such? Well, they never told about how “easy” it was for the hero or how comfortable he or she was. No. The opposite made the hero, well, the hero. Adversity and revelations were bedmates. This Kylea knew.
She closed her eyes and pictured her sister’s smile. “I’m coming.” she whispered.