A small mark behind Rowena’s right ear drew Mara’s attention. It looked like a tattoo of the numeral seven, in a rosy color. “So this your sign, yes? This mark here?”
Gingerly, the Oathtaker brushed her thumb across the mark. She’d studied for so long and finally she was face to face with one of the Select. Beautiful. Setting the tea aside, she took another look at how the birthing progressed.
“The child has crowned. With this next contraction, I want you to bear down with all your strength. Try to focus your energy. Don’t scream or cry if you can help yourself.” In an effort to lighten the intensity of the mood, she chuckled quietly and leaned in as though sharing a secret. “My grandmother always said a woman wasted good energy during a birthing when she cried out. Now I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if she was right, it would be wise to follow her advice. You’ve no extra strength to spare.”
She lightly patted Rowena’s arm in encouragement. “Oh, here it comes. You feel that contraction building? Yes, that’s it. Now bear down and focus. Good . . . good. Well done. I see it’s almost— Yes . . . here comes another. Right now. Push. Push!”
Rowena did not shed a tear. She bore down with astounding energy given her circumstances. Then, spent, she fell back. A single tear rolled down her cheek.
Some minutes passed and with them, several more contractions. Mara spoke gently, encouragingly. Then with one final push, the infant was born.
“That’s it! Rowena, look. You have a beautiful baby girl. Oh, you’ve done it.” The Oathtaker wiped the child’s face and cleared its nose, then took some heavy string from her pack and tied the cord off as needed. Once done, she used Spira to cut the cord. She felt a tingling and almost instantly, a new scent, clean and sweet, filled the air. She breathed in deeply of its mind jarring, almost mesmerizing and complicated combination of orange, violet, iris and jasmine, accompanied by cedar, sandalwood and oak moss. For a moment, she wished she could drown in the fragrance.
Briskly she rubbed the infant’s back, encouraging the little one to breathe. The child gulped in her first breath, but did not cry. Mara laughed with relief. She’s all right! She wiped the infant down, stopping to take note of a birthmark behind her right ear. Of a light blush color, it looked like two numeral sevens, the second intersecting halfway down the vertical line of the first. She marveled at it, touching it softly, then wrapped the child in a clean soft cloth.
“Rowena, look here.” She placed the infant at her breast. “She is so beautiful. What’s her name?”
“That’s a lovely choice. And she looks like a ‘Reigna.’ She is regal. Surely she will reign in this life as would any queen.”
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