A new thought strikes! A new story begins!
“A girl it is, but……and he will live.”
The words roamed all around his head as he walked up and down along the path of his hut.
The night was turning cold, men and women already in their tents, yet this man didn’t feel anything when the cool wind passed through his bare chest. Not even on the wounds, clearly visible under the light of full-moon. The wounds just reminded him of the battles he had participated in, the brave men he had fought and the deadliest beasts he had won over. His walk was slow, pushing a little effort over his right leg. All credits to the arrow that had stuck him in his calf, few years back.
He turned again to walk down the path, and a breeze hit him over his left shoulder. He had always carried all of his wounds proudly, but this one. The scars were new, few winters old, and they reminded him of the worst phase, of all the things he had lost; his men, his people, his kingdom and his son. His body shivered, but because of the other thought he was carried by- “A girl it is, and……but he will live.” He kept walking over the path, lost.
Decaseus, once a king of the richest kingdom of men now stood bare chest, with open wounds, on the lands no man ever sailed to. He was still a king to the few hundreds who followed him to this far land and to the few hundreds who accepted to serve his great mind. His people, both old and new, respected him as their leader. A palace, they called his hut proudly and few even promised to turn it into one. The construction work had started behind his hut, a few full-moon nights ago. The brave men were always eager to provide Decaseus with their service of protecting him and their palace, and exploring the unknown land further. The kind women provided theirs by serving the queen and helping her every possible way they can.
Decaseus again walked towards the entrance of his hut. He could see the newly constructed palace behind; his people had worked day and night to build an actual one for their king. It was a lot smaller than the one Decaseus once ruled from, but big enough to look after the small land he now stood on. Decaseus turned to look at the door again, desperately waiting for it to open. It was something else for the night that was holding him. Every moment of the moon increased the fear in his heart.
The queen, his wife, was pregnant with their third child, after a girl who never blinked and a son who stopped blinking because of some treacherous swines. In the noon of the day, she had complained about a pain rising in her womb and till the dusk, she was unable to bear it. The crying queen and the presence of a midwife in the room of his hut, since a very long time, was another reason for his fear. An old woman had checked over his queen a few nights back and declared that ‘the child will cry on the first night of winter’. The thought of same frightened him more, winter was three nights far. He still considered letting the woman into his hut as a big mistake. He had never understood the magic, and the words their bearer uttered. The word of the old woman again took over his mind, “A girl it is. He will live.”
He turned to walk down the path again, shifting his mind to some other, his men. They had left a few days back to explore deep, to know more about what existed, in this lands none of them had ever heard of.
“The queen asks for you.” A young woman called for Decaseus from behind, standing by the open door of his hut.
He turned to look at her and his eyes stopped at her face, trying to read her expressions.
The woman stood still there, her head little bent in respect and her eyes waiting for the king to follow in. ‘The child has not born yet.’ The woman raised her head a little to look at her king, thinking he might have not heard her. Erie, Decaseus knew her name. The queen talked often about her and the good service she was providing. ‘The child and mother are safe.’ Decaseus concluded, as there was no mark of grief on Erie’s face.
He entered inside the door. ‘Finally.’ The queen laid on her bed, staring at the door, for she was waiting for him. The midwife sat next to her on the bed, applying some paste over her belly.
“She says the pain will return, and the child will be breathing by the third night.” The queen broke the silence in the room.
‘First night of winter.’ Decaseus nodded and moved closer to the bed, letting the midwife to leave the hut and, provide the father and mother with an empty room. Erie had stayed outside. It had been a long time since they talked to each other, alone. There had always been someone listening them; the maids, Erie or the men who were constructing the palace. All were on a leave today, enjoying that their palace was almost finished. The men wanted to gift it to their prince, or a princess, from a few.
“It is a boy.” The queen added. “I can feel him.” She held Decaseus’ hand in hers and put it softly over her swollen belly. Decaseus tried not to rub the paste off, and placed his hand calmly. He knew about the queen’s longing for a son. She had failed to provide enough love and protection to the child, the seven gods blessed her with after a stillborn. She was guilty of that, and wanted to live those moments again, to hear the cry of her son, and to feel her hands over his soft forehead.
“It has to be a girl.” Decaseus said, moving his hand away from her belly and holding hers in his firmly. He longed for a girl child. A daughter he was promised, a daughter he believed to bring good fortune to his kingdom and his people. But she never cried and the people did, to mourn for her. They cried for seven days and nights and then they never did. Even the dead soul of his daughter brought good fortune to his kingdom. So good, that even his closest men forgot about his loss. He couldn’t.
“Erie even made few clothes for him,” She continued. Decaseus knew that she had heard, but ignored him. He kept quiet. “And I will name him Arseus.”
“Why!?” Decaseus was shocked. He looked at her in disbelief and tried to stand up.
“Why not?” The queen asked, trying not to let his hand slip out of hers by holding him with both of her hands. “A name chosen for the bravest son. A name no one carries, but my son will.”
“A name no one carries.” Decaseus kind of got her. He himself held her hands, tight this time. “The name is cursed.”
“I don’t believe in it.” The queen turned her face away. She was determined and had already made her mind, that her son would be named Arseus, and nothing else. “You don’t believe in it.” Her voice was loud as she stared at him again.
‘I do now.’ Decaseus just could not believe his ears. He had never thought, not even in his nightmares, that his queen would want to name a boy, their son here, Arseus. The name was cursed.
Arseus was the name given to her son by a mother, long before she knew the child in her womb was a boy. The mother, who was to be the last great queen of the land of men, gave birth to a stillborn. Her king died on the hands of darkness, and she had the same fate. It had been a thousand years since the mother last breathed, but no child named Arseus ever lived. No one named their boy that. A legend, many declared the story as, but they all believed that the name was cursed. ‘It carries darkness with it.’ Decaseus believed in it, not on the story of name but the darkness it was related to. He had lost his kingdom to same dark men.
“You must rest now.” Decaseus caressed her head, resting his hand on her eyes. “You need it. I will ask Erie to join you.” He added and stood to leave.
“Decaseus,” The queen called out. “The name is not cursed. The ‘Deads’ ended after he was to born.” Decaseus had heard that part of the story too, but that all was just ruining the moment. “I want to name him, my son, Arseus.” She stared hard at him, right in his eyes. This trick had worked a lot of times before, but not then.
“We will see.” Decaseus exited out, trying to put his mind away from what his queen asked, rather declared to him. He would never name a boy, whoever it be, something that the magic bearers believed to be cursed. He believed in magic now, even in the darkest. ‘A girl it is.’ The words of the old woman again hit his mind. He wanted to tell about it to his queen, but he failed one more time to do so.
It was before ten nights, that he had found an old woman among the people who had settled on this land long before he arrived. He saw her cure s man’s wound with her hands, and invited her to his hut. He wanted to know what the destiny was to gift him this time.
The old woman accepted his invitation and forth night she stood in his hut. The queen was sleeping, and none from the king or the old woman wanted to wake her up. The woman walked slowly, slower towards the queen’s bed. Decaseus could see that she was having problem in following her own legs. She even did fall over once, and Decaseus held at the right moment before she could hit the ground. Her hands were cold, colder than the ice, Decaseus had once fought over.
The woman sat next to the queen’s side, placing her hands on her bare belly, but the queen didn’t shiver. She never would have felt the cold hands on the bulge of her belly.
‘Some kind of sorcery.’ Decaseus knew. He observed her as she moved her hands along the queen’s skin. Erie, who stood on the other side, did the same, observed the old woman. The woman closed her eyes, but her expression-less face didn’t change. She opened her lips to recite few words, her voice so dim that Decaseus never knew she said something.
“A girl it is,” Her voice now audible. It was heavy, and Decaseus was amazed as it too didn’t wake the queen. “Eye of her father, fair of all and…but,” she stopped. Decaseus thought it as a problem many of his new men faced. ‘They don’t speak the language of gods.’ “But he will live.”
“She,” Erie opened her mouth to correct the old woman, but she didn’t speak it loud enough. She didn’t even speak further for the old woman had opened her eyes now.
The old woman stared hard at her hands, then the skin they touched. The balls in her eyes, her pupil, expanded as she was looking into something grave, something dark. “Walk the land one day,” her eyes turned back to normal as she continued. “Fly to the sun and star.” Her voice trembled now, like she didn’t want to speak any further. “But…and he will live.” The woman stopped, her voice back to normal, the raspy one which she carried.
“And she will live.” Erie couldn’t help herself control and she corrected the old woman.
The old woman, on other hand didn’t care to look at Erie or correct what she just said. Decaseus knew that she had problems with the language the great minds spoke. She was slight disappointed when he had asked her to talk in the language he could understand. The old woman stood up, slowly taking her hands off the queen.
“If you would have told me that the magic was hard,” Decaseus tried to help the woman walk, holding her but she didn’t lean. She walked on herself. “I wouldn’t have bothered you to use it.” He said.
The woman didn’t say anything, walking faster than her usual pace, but still slow. She didn’t even turn until she had exited out, and once when she did, she looked at the queen’s face, but with the same expression-less eyes.
“She will live.” Decaseus whispered to himself, reciting the old woman’s words. He wanted to wake his queen and have her hear the good news, but he postponed it for some other time. ‘A girl it is.’