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|This is the end of the last task one of my characters had to go through to become a god. This is the bard from Who's... Going... First? after a lot of adventuring.||
The woman walked carefully down the road. Her normal clothing of long green skirt, beige shirt and green bodice had been replaced by a loose, flowing dress of beige with crescent moons and three stars. She was heavily pregnant and leaned on the pointed walking staff that had replaced her normal long bow and quiver. She carried a brown bag along her back, the opening just under her left elbow. The bag seemed to be only half full but it never got any emptier.
She stopped every few yards to dig the walking stick into the ground alongside the road. She dropped a few seeds into the hole, covered it and prayed. Water came from between her hands and a small green shoot rose slowly from the ground. She would push herself up and continue down the road.
The woman was still two days away from the shrine. She was nine months along and traveling by herself. She had been promised help birthing her baby when her time came once she reached the shrine. She wasn’t always alone. Shade would come sometimes and walk with her, smoothing her hair away from her neck as she knelt to plant her seeds. He talked to his child in her womb and brought her messages from Devin and Julian. The closer the woman got to the shrine, the clearer she could hear the calls for help that called him away.
Devin was busy restoring the temples to Shade and training a special pupil, a half-orc who was too fast for his own good and needed to put a little finesse into his fighting. The High Priest rarely took on fighting pupils these days, spending most of his time since the War helping his people rebuild their homes. Julian was busy learning new spells. He had hired himself to the assassins guild, using most of his gold on experiments and research.
“Belantry is quite annoyed with you,” Shade told her one day.
“What have I done to annoy Belantry the not-so-great? I’d ask if I’d really angered him but his anger could only amount to a small nuisance.” The woman laughed at the mention of the god of music.
“You have become quite renowned and picked up a growing following. There are bards who have started to take on the usenames of birds. They’ve started singing your praises and they don’t only sing them.” Shade laughed.
“Oh? What else do they do?” The woman was amused. The name she had given when asked had been a spontaneous one the day she met Julian. She couldn’t remember ever using a different one.
“To ensure knowledge of your great deeds is never lost, they have taken to writing them down on magically treated paper.” Shade smiled and took a piece of paper from the air and shook it out. “Care to hear some of the drivel they’ve been writing?”
“Why not? I might as well know what’s annoying Belantry.”
The bar room stopped when the woman walked in. Her long silver hair ended just below her knees. It framed a heart shaped face with big, brown eyes, a perfectly proportioned nose and a tiny rose bud mouth. She wore a beige shirt and forest green skirt and bodice. She made a breathtaking sight. The fact that she carried a quiver full of arrows and a long bow that glowed as if on fire was ignored by the people who gazed at her.
“Am I in the Broken Dagger Inn?” The woman asked her voice low and sweet. The man behind the bar nodded. “Good.”
She pulled an arrow from her quiver and drew the bow. The arrow burst into flames when she released it into the alcohol behind the bar. The bartender dove aside as the wall behind him exploded. The wood building quickly caught fire and the woman turned and walked out the door. A multicolored wall sprang up in the doorway behind her and surrounded the building.
The two people waiting outside watched the fire dance up to the roof. The elf noticed the stricken look on her face and held open his arms. The woman threw herself into them and sobbed on his shoulder. “I can’t believe I just blew up a bar!”
The woman laughed, planted another of her seeds and whispered her prayer. “I remember that day. I was helping Devin look for his sons. That was about a week before those idiots released the three ancient gods in the desert.”
“Idiots?” Shade raised an eyebrow and helped her struggle to her feet. “Didn’t you become rather fond of at least one of them?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. The spoiled druid? The dwarf with a love for human magic? Or the gnome with the stupid pointy hat?”
“What about the bard with brown hair and brown eyes? The one that played so you could dance at that bar?”
“Oh, that one, don’t even talk about him to me.”
“He can’t help who his father is.”
“I don’t care. I’m not interested in what he can or cannot help. He could have at least warned me before I started helping them. So could’ve you or Devin for that matter.”
“We just wanted you to be happy.”
“By taunting me with what I’ll never be again? Or by trying to set me up with Verlairian’s son? I know your sense of humor, Shade, and that wasn’t funny.”
“How were we supposed to know that Verlairian would keep showing up to take care of him?”
“You should have known that Verlairian would take any chance to taunt me. I’m the only person left that knows it was him who killed Calen and Kyla. He’s a sick bastard and you saw how he played with the others before he butchered them.”
A cry of despair flew by on the breeze and Shade abruptly disappeared. The woman sighed and went back to planting her flowers.
The flowers she was planting alongside the road kept the pathway to the shrine lit in the darkest night. A bird always came at night to sing her so sleep. The woman would rub her heavy stomach and whisper “Nightingale. You’ll sing like the birds. You’ll sing so sweetly. My little Nightingale.”
The gods would be able to find her daughter in her time of need. She still had nightmares of the sight of the mage known as “The Nameless One” and knew she herself could look like that one day. She almost despaired of having a name. Only true immortality could save her from the horrible twisting that would start from the inside and finally take over her body and soul. Her daughter would never suffer such a fate. The woman was determined that her daughter wouldn’t be an abomination.
The morning of her last day of travel also brought her contractions. She kept planting her seeds, knowing she would reach the shrine when she needed to. As she reached the shrine, she was almost not able to walk. A large, pavilion tent had been set up next to the shrine. As the woman knelt before the shrine, her prayer became a scream of agony that ripped through the silence that surrounded her.
A young man with brown hair and brown eyes ran out of the tent, the closest to panic he had ever known. He lifted the woman easily and her pain seemed slightly detached, as though it didn’t belong to her. Calen carried the woman into the tent and set her down on pillows he’d brought just for this. He’d been waiting almost eight months for her to finish her journey.
“I need you to push, Lark,” He ran his hand over her stomach. “Your darling is ready to meet the world.”
The woman pushed and Calen coaxed the child to come into the world. Her first scream sounded like a flock of birds. He ran his hand down her back and her scream turned into a coo.
“Here’s your darling,” he set the baby down in the woman’s arms and she started nosing around for her mother’s nipple.
“Calen?” The woman looked up at the young man. “Ohmigosh! We thought you had died!”
“No, not quite. You guys got sucked away before anybody could check to see if I was still alive. I mourned for Kyla though. I don’t think Krindel will ever get over losing her.”
“I missed you so much, Calen. I didn’t have anybody to take care of me.” The woman smiled as Nightingale began to feed.
“Shade told me you’d need some help. I’m so glad I was here.”
Shade walked in the opening of the tent. “It took me forever to get him out of that awful place.” He bent down and kissed her forehead. “It was hard but I did it for you, Lady Lark.”
Lady Lark gasped. She’d finally earned a name.
“You can also take up the power you’ve earned.” He kissed Nightingale and smiled. “Take care of our little songbird. She’s got a world of work ahead of her.”
 The gnome would like to state for the record that the hat was not stupid and the wall of wind was a good idea.
|The Loss of Magic||
|The Story of Creation||Hounds|