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Lost Prologue: Full Moon Midnight
“Come now my lady, you have died before; surely childbirth is easy enough to overcome.”
Queen Rowena’s silver eyes pierced the midwife’s hazel eyes with anger and resentment.
“Do not say anything if you yourself have not experienced both death and childbirth!” She screamed furiously. Her shrill cries rang through the darkened forest. Creatures that stalked the night barely made a sound as they prowled a wide berth around the protective circle enshrining the midwife and the queen on the grand pallet. Another scream ripped through the silent night. This pain coursing through her body couldn’t compare to dying, as she forcibly contracted her muscles causing her thin body to shake. Her precious child was worth the agony, Rowena thought as she pushed one final time. This child was the only one she was allowed for her sins. The soul-eating lifestyle tended not to be a simple, easy life; Rowena brooded as the searing pain slowly lessened.
A young babe’s cry exhorted her from her dark thoughts, as the forest suddenly shifted from menacing to welcoming. Where the tall, verdant trees had let little light through their leaves, young fairies clustered about in small, star-like groups, whispering about the newborn. Wolves crept out from the shadows of tree and protectively encircled Rowena and the midwife. Despite Rowena’s extended family never approving of her love of Stephen, she appreciated the fact that the wolves were her to accept the birth of another member of their pack.
The midwife suddenly stopped cleaning the newborn, “My lady, her eyes. . . ”
“Give her to me.” The midwife wrapped the infant in her shawl and handed her lady her new daughter. Rowena immediately noticed what the midwife saw. Not the fact that she was a girl, but the fact that her eyes were hyperaware of her surroundings. Rowena looked directly into her daughter’s red eyes, and felt apprehension rise up from deep inside. Her daughter must be a Soul-Eater as well, Rowena predicted that much, but was she that Soul-Eater; the one chosen by Death himself?
“Dona, what time is it?”
“Midnight, my lady. Why do you ask?”
“Because what you felt from my daughter is an ancient power that may surpass even my own, which you will never speak to anyone of, lest you wish to forfeit your life.”
The midwife, Dona, looked positively mortified. The impossible came to pass and she had been the one to deliver it. If her lady’s daughter surpassed her mother in power, the girl would be completely uncontrollable. What if the infant lusted for blood? What if she was a merciless killer? Was everyone condemned?
“Yes,” Rowena answered the terrified woman’s thoughts.
“If she chooses, this girl could annihilate the whole universes. As such, I will bind her powers.”
Yet Rowena knew the problem with that solution: her daughter’s powers would only be bound as long as she lived. When Rowena died, no one in all the many universes would be able to stop this Soul-Eater.
Thousands of miles away in a small isolated cottage on the edge of a small town another woman was welcoming her own newborn. A healer noblewoman by the name of Elizabeth Isleen Walker served her people as well as the queen that ruled them. Similarly, Lady Elizabeth’s pain was immense. Her cries were heard in the heart of the small town, many miles away. She lay prone on her own thick pallet in the main room of the cottage. Staring at the terra cotta ceiling, the green eyed noblewoman breathed deeply visibly glad that the pain was over.
“My lady, your daughter lives!” The midwife happily told her mistress.
“Give her to me,”
It was not a question, as Lady Elizabeth rarely needed those, but a strong command.
The midwife handed Lady Elizabeth her daughter without another thought, but what the auburn haired noble noticed made the happiness drain away replaced by a shower of worry.
‘Her eyes are clear,’ Elizabeth realized. Her daughter could not be a Soul-Eater, could she?
“Anya, what time is it?”
“Midnight, my lady.”
“Are you certain?” Elizabeth felt her panic setting in as she considered what her family would have thought about this predicament. She could not raise a soul-eater, her family’s natural enemy.
“Yes my lady. If I may ask, why is the time the child was born so important to you?”
Elizabeth frowned in anxiety and began her explanation.
“You see Anya, only a handful of children are ever born with clear, open eyes, and those that are have a cursed fate. Rarer still are those born with their eyes open near midnight, when the barriers between universes are at their weakest. Those unfortunate children are blessed with great power in order for them to face their wretched destiny. We have a name for those cursed creatures: Soul-Eaters.” The midwife interrupted her lady’s explanation with a gasp.
“My lady, how can it be? The great Walker Family, your family has guarded the people against Soul-Eaters for thousands of centuries without fail. It is simply impossible for you the last survivor of the Walkers to have borne a Soul-Eater.”
Elizabeth smiled wearily at the innocent midwife.
“I am afraid that you will not understand, but I will try to explain as best as I can.”
Anya nodded preparing herself for anything, be it good or ill.
“You have seen me exhausted after I have expanded a great amount of energy. My powers are great, close to the queen’s limits, but that is the crux: she and I have limits. Soul-Eaters do not have limits, because they do not expand their own energy. Their strength comes from the people they feed on. However that is the limit to my knowledge, and what is known about Soul-Eaters.”
Anya was awestruck. She now understood why Soul-Eaters were called parasites, but she always believed that Soul-Eaters no longer existed. After all, she and everyone she knew had been raised on terrible old wives tales and bedtime stories about Soul-Eaters and their misdeeds.
“There is only one Soul-Eater that I know of, and somehow she has maintained the peaceful ways she had vowed to. She is so different from the stories that I’m not entirely sure of how true our folklore is. . .”
Lady Elizabeth trailed off, brow furrowed, but gently rocking her new born to sleep. If her daughter was a Soul-Eater, Elizabeth decided, then she would ask that Soul-Eater to train and help her daughter. Lady Elizabeth tensed suddenly, noticing a thick, heavy presence in the air. Queen Rowena appeared a short distance away, bathed in mist and surrounded by three wolves and a handmaiden holding a small baby in her arms.
Her piercing, silver eyes flashing, Queen Rowena demanded, “Leave us. All of you.”
The midwives scurried away, babes in arms, followed promptly by the three wolves giving their queen rather contemptuous glares, leaving Queen Rowena and Lady Elizabeth alone. The tension between the dark haired queen and the fair haired lady stifled even the occupants of the adjoining room. After exchanging steady glares, frosted green eyes broke away from pin silver ones to land on a pair of rustic, wooden chairs with well-worn cushion. Not looking back, Lady Elizabeth reclined to the chair closest to her. Queen Rowena followed taking the chair opposite her. Their eyes met again, taking in their equally pale, clammy, yet flushed skin.
“Just finished?” The queen teased without a smile.
“I suppose it’s the same for you since you are asking.” Lady Elizabeth jested in return, only she smiled.
Queen Rowena’s lips quirked upward just enough to pass for a smile, but faded before she asked her most pressing question. Silver irises bleeding red, Rowena used the power of dominance inherent only in the true royal family of this city.
“Elizabeth Isleen Walker, speak the truth. If I bind my daughter’s powers to her soul, will you bind her then separated soul to her heart whether it is still or beating?”
The noblewoman silently cursed. Of course the queen was wise enough to force her to answer an uncomfortable question by using her full name with the power of dominance that forced the one whose full name was spoken to comply with the speaker’s wishes. Inhaling sharply, Lady Elizabeth delivered her answer.
“I will, but only if you bind my daughter’s power to something in exchange.”
Queen Rowena smirked like a saucy cat that recently caught a goldfish as her eyes because quicksilver again,
“Then our accord is struck,” she said with an outstretched hand.
“Our accord is struck,” Lady Elizabeth repeated, grasping the hand in hers with finality to seal the deal.