The Blood Moon's Children

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Doors were shut, windows sealed, not even the wind dared to howl. The village seemed abandoned, save one lonely hut, snuggled into the crook between the main path and the forest trail. Emitting from the hut's every opening were horrific sounds and vibrant light. This chaos' only witness was the Blood Moon and its legion of loyal stars.

Life, both old and new, strained to be recognized from within the confines of the hut, evidenced by the screams echoing out, into the night. A man was pacing, pausing periodically to wring his hands and let the working women pass by. The hushed whispers of wise women and midwives sounded like a dull hum under the frequency of pain. Huddled together, they tried to hide what the man already knew. Furtive glances towards the event punctuated the women's narration of it.

"I never thought this day would come,"

"Our future begins tonight,"

"PLEASE! I CAN'T WAIT ANY LONGER!" She interrupted, gripping the furs beneath her.

Shaken, the women rushed to her bedside. One checked her progress while the rest fluttered about, unsure how to help.

"It's time." Came the solemn decree.

The women slipped into their roles, ready to guide her through the process of bringing a soul into the world.

After hours of pain, of pushing, of screams, just before dawn, as the moon was retiring, the little one was born. The mother exhausted, covered in the evidence of her efforts, looked on with tears in her eyes as her child was given to the Village's Matriarch. Her husband joined her on the bed, rubbing her back, trying to ease the heartbreak they both shared. Their baby was no longer simply theirs.

The Matriarch burst through the hut's doorway, shouting, "SHE HAS ARRIVED!"

Slowly, doors opened, and heads peaked out to witness their miracle. Through the throng of bodies flooding the main path, a channel formed around the woman transporting the Matriarch's young prince, who, just like the one born that night, entered the world under the watchful eye of the Blood Moon. His mother met them halfway, holding out the newborn for him to meet.

"Isn't she beautiful, my love?"

Scrunching his nose, he reached out, poking her cheek.

"Be kind! You will do great things together!" his mother admonished, turning away, preventing any further assault.

"But..."

"No buts! You will respect her."

"Yes mother," He grumbled, squinting at the babe.

The Matriarch coughed, trying to hide her amusement. Around them, the villagers, doing their best not to bump those carrying the children, fought for the right to witness the meeting of their future leaders.

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Holding her breath, she flattened herself against the wall. Frozen, she waited for the footsteps to pass in the darkness. Once silence reigned, she, as slowly as her racing heart permitted, worked her way out of the door, staying low. Once outside, careful to avoid her mother's flowers, she quickly reached the end of the safety provided by the hut's walls. Taking stock of her surroundings, content that there was no sign of life, she took off for the cover of the forest. Once confined by the trees, picking her way through the brush, she set off on the path she had memorized from her father's map.

Despite the approaching dusk and her aching feet, she continued on. Gripping her mother's skinning knife tightly by her side, she crept forwards, cautious due to the descending darkness.

CRACK!

Spinning towards the sound, she wielded the knife, understanding the true weight of it in her hand. Peering into the trees, she could discern a figure behind her.

"Who goes there?" She called, trying to steady her voice

Silence answered her and the figure stepped closer.

"Stop! Who are you?"

"Do you think you're going to make it far? You know what was written. The plan is in motion." Creaked a feminine voice.

"I choose my own path," she spoke, "or at least I have to try to," she mumbled, the end of her sentence consumed by silence of the night.

Having heard her assertion, the stranger prodded her, "Why try if failure is inevitable? There is no escape."

"There has to be. I WILL NOT LET SHINING LIGHTS IN THE SKY DICTATE MY LIFE!" She cried, her hard-earned composure breaking.

In the following silence, she shifted uncomfortably and vocally assaulted her uninvited companion, "What are you waiting for? Aren't you going to drag me back?"

When she remained unanswered, she brandished her knife with new confidence, "I dare you to try!"

"Put that away, child. I do not need to take you anywhere. You will end up where the stars will you to, I was just trying to spare you a roundabout journey."

"Everything will end up as I have planned." She grumbled.

The woman simply laughed and became obscured by the darkness of the incoming night. Once confident the stranger was gone, she knew she needed to continue on. Gripping her only protection even tighter, she hunkered lower to the ground, moving as silently as possible through the forest.

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"Stars above! It's been a long day!"

"Come rest dear. Today's work is done." He stated, patting the vacant spot on their bed.

"But..."

"No. The children are in bed, everyone's washing has been returned, and your sewing has been stored away."

Biting her lip, she continued to question him, "Have you..."

"Yes, love. I finished the village's fence, approved the changes to the road, and proposed the schoolhouse improvements you suggested. Rest."

She hesitated a second more before deflating into the bed's soft furs. Rolling to press her face into his shoulder, she let an exhausted groan.

"Why are we so busy? Let's do nothing tomorrow." She complained, muffled.

"You know why. Our people rely on us, it's something to be proud of."

"Why? We aren't in charge; that's what the council is for."

"Because, without our help, they would still be living in squalor." He reminded her gently, stroking her tangled hair.

"Well, that's silly, anyone could have done that."

"Believe what you will, Love, it doesn't change the truth."

Her next grumble was too obstructed to be understood. Barking out a laugh, he kept trying to help her relax.

Absentmindedly, he pondered aloud, "What would my mother think?"

"Why do you ask?" She inquired, lifting her face only enough to be understood.

"Wow, I don't think I've told you this. When I was born under the Blood Moon, my village thought I was part of the stars' great plan. Years later, another child was born in the same circumstances, and the elders claimed it meant we would lead them to prosperity."

Frozen, she pushed for more, "What happened?"

"The girl ran away before the wedding. We never found her. After her departure, and the tumult it caused, the village fell to famine; animals disappeared, and crops died. To survive, we had to disband and find new dwellings." He murmured, lost in memory.

"That's awful!" She whispered, lost in her own recollections.

He brightened, "It all worked out though! Most of those with us now are originally or descended from my village! Many of the older members have even told me they have never seen such affluence. I like to think my mother would have been proud of me, despite not fulfilling the stars' plan."

Thinking his wife had fallen asleep due to her silence, he carefully leaned over and blew out the candles. Snuggling further into the furs, he drifted into a well-deserved rest. However, laying in the darkness, she couldn't shake the words spoken to her so long ago, in a forest well-remembered: "You will end up where the stars will you to."

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Abigail Haworth · ago
Beautiful story and descriptions