Hydrogena stood on her balcony at Locks Eye, gazing towards the sun. “Oh, what have I done,” she said quietly. With her fingers gently pressing her temples, her sight penetrated deeper and deeper into heaven. She could see the palace, the insides of the rooms, the gods inside. Her visual journey took her to the throne room, where the dream-like blur came into sharp focus.
“Aurumus,” she said out loud. “For ninety days I have watched and listened to the Human Conduit. I am confident he has heeded your message to him, and is of good intent. However, I have other news.”
Aurumus sensed her hesitation. “Whether it be good or bad, speak up and be done with it,” he said.
Hydrogena nodded. “I am carrying a human child.”
Aurumus stood up suddenly. “What? How did this come about? Who is the father?”
Hydrogena judged he was more shocked than furious. “Lord Lockseye,” was all she said.
Aurumus wasn’t going to let her get away with that. “I asked you another question,” he said sharply.
Hydrogena bowed her head, giving him the obvious answer. “I found Lockseye attractive and bedded with him. He was just a human. I didn’t think –”
“No, you didn’t think,” Aurumus boomed. “Now you must suffer the consequences.”
A tear had formed in Hydrogena’s eye. “You don’t want me to kill it, do you?”
“No, of course not, I want you to look after it. Just like the world you helped create on too much wine. Will you never learn?”
She lowered her head. “Only with your help, Highest. I’ll be finished here in time to have it at home.”
“No,” Aurumus said.
Hydrogena started crying now, and pools formed on the balcony. “Must you punish the child as well as me?”
More gently, he said. “Think of it, Hydrogena. Up here, the child would be a weakling, an outcast. On Hume it will be strong; superior even, and much more likely to do justice to its parentage. You will not tell it of its heritage, and it will not know any other way.”
In a very small voice, Hydrogena said “So am I to live on Hume for the rest of its life?”
“No, that won’t be necessary. You will look after it on Hume until its fifth birthday, when it will not need you quite so much.”
She nodded, seeing the wisdom of his words. She dried up her tears and asked, “Where am I to go? What am I to do here for five years?”
“I suggest you discuss that with Lord Lockseye.” Aurumus picked up a bottle of wine and sent it down to her. “If you are bedding with him, drink a glass of this wine every night, and you will have no more children by him. Have you anything else to report?”
“Yes, one thing. I think we should do something about the wolves. They’re almost full size, and bold from trying to feed such bodies. They must have inched up without our noticing.”
Aurumus nodded. “I’ll have the others see to it. In fact, I’ll have them do a systematic check of the other creatures, as well. Good luck, Hydrogena.”
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