The Naming

Okay, here it is. It’s unedited, so forgive any blunders. The sole purpose of this piece is to name the child and likely it will never appear in the novel itself.

Dego Whitewolf helped his wife down the steps of the healer’s cottage, steps designed for protection from flooding, steps that hindered the pregnant woman.

“I’m keeping you from your work,” Veisa said between huffs.

“The king will do fine without me, I’m here as long as you need me.” The exertion of her never ending pregnancy was taking a toll, and Dego wished the child would make its appearance already. The intense summer heat didn’t help, nor the drought that dried the nearby streams. It was a long walk to cooling water, but they made the walk together every morning, and hung about the watering hole as long as they could.

“It’s pretty out here,” Veisa said, her mind distant.

“I thought it best for you to relax these last few days.”

She laughed then, a knowing laugh, and he smiled. “That’s just a side effect. You wanted a natural environment for the naming, didn’t you?”

At least she wasn’t angry. “Tradition says I cannot create the name in advance, but it says nothing about manipulating circumstances to help widen my choices.”

Veisa stopped for breath, one hand on her swollen belly. “The right name will come to you,” she said when she recovered. “I believe in you.”

Dego encouraged her forward, the watering hole wasn’t far, but his thoughts lingered on the name. His father named him Whitewolf after the great wolf that heralded his birth thirty years ago. It was a promising, honorable name and he was proud of his father’s choice. It lent him strength in difficult times, though it failed him now; worse it intimidated him.

There was little in the city to adequately name his child. The king’s own sons were named ‘Windstorm’ and ‘Ravenwing’ simply because there was little enough happening. Veisa’s name ‘Starshine’ was lovely, and truly matched the shine of her eyes when she smiled. It was here in the forest her mother had given birth to her, in the healer’s cottage in the clearing where the stars shone down to lighten her birth. This is what prompted his idea to take Veisa here.

The day passed slowly for husband and wife as they awaited their child’s birth, an the heat wore on. The forest remained parched and the trees wilted with them. Where was the rain? Veisa needed relief, if not in birthing this child, then at least in comfort.

Another two days passed, grating on their nerves when Veisa cried out. They had just reached the watering hole, the longest walk by far.

Dego panicked. “What’s wrong?”

Veisa held her belly, and beneath her strong hands he saw the belly shift. She moaned and swayed. Dego eased her to the ground. “Veisa?”

She laughed painfully. “I have my name ready for her, do you?”

“Her?” Dego’s mind whirled. What was going on?

“I dreamt last night she would be born today. She, Dego, and that she’ll be a strong healer when she grows up. I thought it a dream, but–” she cried out again, “–no dream. Fetch Marianas, quickly.”

The last thing he wanted to do was leave his wife alone, but he could not carry her, nor would she allow him in her condition. He sprinted back toward the cottage, but the healer met him halfway.

“Relax,” she told him as she strode along, satchel over her shoulder. “I saw her this morning, I had a feeling the child would come today.”

For all she told him to relax, his heart pounded. Labor took most of the day, and Dego felt useless. He could not spare his wife the pain, though Marianas did, somewhat. The pain was necessary, she claimed, lecturing about good pain and bad pain gauging the baby’s progress. Pain was simply pain, and it wore on for Veisa.

Over her cries he heard the distant roll of thunder, and through the settling dusk saw the bright flashes of lightning. He knew the forest wasn’t the safest place during a violent storm, and he silently urged the child to come forth. Raindrops fell as Veisa pushed the child out, mixing with the tears on her face. She settled down in relief as the child wailed into the night, announcing her arrival.

“Nerissa,” the mother whispered.

Dego took the child, cleansed by rain, the same rain which cooled her mother, and would heal the withered forest. Veisa dreamt of a healer, but Dego could see nothing beyond the scrunched pink face that warmed his heart. He prayed his choice would honor her. “Rain, my daughter. Your name is Nerissa Rain. Carry it with pride.”


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