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Saturday, October 13, 2012
Mortal Goddess - Chapter 7
“Aira! I’m so glad you’re here! My son is having pains in his stomach, and I was hoping you could help him.” One of Aira’s sisters informed her. She was the 5th of the 7 daughters, and so, was fairly close in age to Aira.
Aira stepped into her embrace, giving her a kiss. “I missed you too.” She bent to examine her nephew. He had a habit of putting odd objects in his mouth, and since Aira instinctively knew that he wasn’t seriously ill, she figured he had merely ate something that disagreed with him.
“Can you name everything that you’ve put in your mouth today?” She asked him.
“Breakfast, mud, grass, a spider, lunch, water, and some candy Grandmother gave me,” the boy answered.
Aira made a noise of distaste and stuck out her tongue. “Eew. What kind of spider? What did it look like?” She asked, a queasy look on her face. Her sister – his mother – held her hand over her mouth, trying not to vomit.
“It was a big spider, gray I think,” he said with a nod, positive he was correct.
Aira was satisfied that it was not a poisonous spider. Digging in her ever-present “magic” bag, she removed an herb known to quell upset stomachs. “Here, eat this, and try to keep spiders out of your mouth.” She forced a smile, still thoroughly disgusted.
“Thank you,” her sister said after he had run off. They hugged again.
Aira went around and hugged everyone. She promised to do a preventative examination on everybody, as she had done every year since she had first become fluent in the healing arts, about five years ago.
Aira gathered all her nieces and nephews into a circle on the front lawn, admonishing the one with the upset stomach for eating a grasshopper. She told them a story about horses, before people had domesticated them, while she mentally checked them all for illnesses and anything else that might be wrong.
Aira hoped that Devius would not appear. She hoped he would go visit his friend today, for she did not have the strength to deal with him yet. At the same time, she expected him to materialize at any moment and was upset that he didn’t.
After she had spent a few hours enthralling the children with her stories, she sat on the ground next to her mother, resting her head against her mother’s knee.
“Aira Love, what’s wrong?” Her mother asked, instinctively knowing that not all was right with her youngest daughter.
“Gia is dead!” Aira announced with a teary sigh.
“Oh that’s terrible!” Olivia exclaimed, horrified. Olivia had considered Gia a beloved friend for Gia had seen Olivia through all 14 of her births, and had helped take care of the children when Olivia fell ill. Olivia had seen the special bond that had existed between Gia and her daughter since she was born. Olivia knew that as much as she would miss Gia, her daughter was bound to be utterly lost with out her.
“Who’s Gia?” Emmaline asked curiously.
“Gia was the midwife that helped me birth all my children,” Olivia answered.
Emmaline nodded in acknowledgement, wondering why Aira would care so much about a mere midwife. “Did she die of old age?”
“No, she was burned to death. While she slept, someone set fire to her house,” Aira nearly whispered, tears falling from her eyes.
Olivia gasped. “That’s horrible!”
Aira heard Gia’s voice in her head “That’s not all that happened, but we won’t go into that just now.”
“Why on Earth would anyone want to kill Gia?” Olivia asked, now completely devastated herself. She pulled out a handkerchief to wipe at the tears silently streaming down her face.
“Whoever did it left a message inscribed on the path to her house,” Aira said, forcing herself to breathe calmly.
“What did it say?” Emmaline questioned.
“Burn in hell witch!” Aira burst into tears.
“Oh Aira, my darling, how awful! You must be completely exhausted. Your bedroom is being used as a napping area for the children, but you may rest awhile in your father’s and my bed,” Olivia offered, stroking Aira’s hair.
“Also, Devius left this morning, so the room he was using is empty. It was the oddest thing; he just up and decided to return home,” Emmaline offered, trying to be helpful.
Aira, already in tears, cried all the harder at this new turn of events. Olivia slid from her chair to the ground next to her daughter, pulling her into a comforting embrace.
Every person within sight of the pair stopped what they were doing and stared. No one had ever seen Aira cry before; in fact, none could even recall ever having seen Aira the least bit upset in her entire life.
“What happened?” They wondered. Aira was normally the one person that they all turned to when they were upset or needed help. Slowly, they gathered around her, trying to extend their support. Olivia decided that it would be best if they had some privacy and escorted Aira to the bedroom that she and her husband had shared for their 50 plus years of marriage.
Aira was immediately more comfortable once inside her mother’s bedroom because she had spent many a happy hours there as a child.
Outside, everyone asked Emmaline what had happened.
“Apparently, someone set fire to the house where a person named Gia lived, and killed her,” she answered.
“Oh no!” The group gasped collectively. Well, at least those that knew Gia, which was almost everyone. The ones that didn’t know of her were spouses that had married into the family relatively recently.
“Why?” They all wanted to know.
“Apparently, someone thought she was a witch,” Emmaline answered, exhausting her limited knowledge on the subject.
“Oh Aira!” They gasped in concern for their sister.
“Who would do such a thing?”
“I don’t know.” Emmaline shrugged, wondering why everyone was so concerned for a woman - a tenant at that - who was accused of being a witch. Shuddering, she crossed herself.
Devius thought that it would be good to be home, but he had now been home for over 2 weeks, and all he had done was wallow in self-pity. He had been such a monster all his life and now he was indirectly responsible for a death. He was certain that Thomas wasn’t the killer, but someone must have overheard that part of the conversation with Thomas, and so he had inconsiderately and unthinkingly labeled Gia - a woman he barely knew - as a witch.
He felt awful! He had never really met the woman and had mostly heard of her from Aira. He had seen the inside of her house twice and seen her riding in the distance once.
The only reason he had even thought of her - when Thomas had mentioned a witch in the area - was because she was eccentric and lived in seclusion, even though she was a welcome member of the community. She was the only person who came close to the traditionally accepted definition of a witch. But it was obvious that she couldn’t possibly be, for he had never heard of anything evil happening in the area.
And the worst part about the whole situation was that his beloved never wanted to see him again! Devius didn’t want to turn back into the arrogant monster he had been... He felt mortally wounded and couldn’t bear to be out in public, watching the ton go about oblivious to the pain and suffering of the common people in the city.
What had Aira done to him? How could she have changed him so completely? Why had he let her?
It was good that she never wanted to see him again because – at this moment – he hated her for expanding his awareness and making his life a miserable wreck! If he never saw her again, it would suit him just fine.
Aira informed the villagers of Gia’s death, and that she would be staying with her family for a while until she felt well again. She also conducted a memorial service for Gia in which everybody whose life she had ever touched attended.
“Aira Hamilton, if you don’t stop moping over my death, I will personally beat you!” Gia’s spirit advised.
“I’m sorry I’m so moody Gia. I have gotten over the fact that you’re no longer in a physical body. It’s how you passed on that still upsets me.”
“What do you mean you’re over my death?” Gia questioned, pretending to be offended.
“Well Gia, it’s hard to miss you when I can hear you chattering in my head everywhere I go,” Aira replied, glad she was alone.
“I do not chatter! I knew that I shouldn’t have become your spirit guide,” Gia said with mock huffiness.
“I’m glad you did.” Aira smiled softly.
“Well then, what is really upsetting you?” Gia asked, even though she already knew the truth.
“How could Devius just leave?” Aira asked miserably.
“Well, you didn’t give him a reason not to. You never told him you love him. You never told him about the baby – granted you didn’t really have time – and then you ordered him to leave you alone,” Gia listed.
Aira covered her mouth and ran to the chamberpot in the corner of her room. Two of Aira’s sisters and her mother entered the room at that moment.
“Aira honey, this is the third day in a row that you have been physically ill like this,” one of her sisters said.
“Has Gia’s death upset you that much?” The other asked.
“Aira, tell me how I can help,” her mother demanded.
“Well, the only thing that can help me is time. These symptoms will go away in a month or two,” Aira informed them. The three women looked at her in suspicion.
“Aira, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were pregnant,” her mother accused.
“Well…” Aira began, not knowing exactly how to explain this to her mother. She had never lied in her life and she didn’t want to start now, so she decided not to talk about it.
“You are, aren’t you!” One of her sisters exclaimed.
“Who’s the father?” The other questioned.
Aira sighed, “I don’t want to talk about it, please don’t ask me to. I promise I’ll tell you when I’m ready.”
“It was one of your villagers wasn’t it?” The first sister asked.
“I bet it was,” the second agreed with a nod.
“Ladies, let’s leave your sister alone for a while, she needs to rest a bit. She said she will tell us when she is ready,” Olivia suggested, herding her older daughters out of the room. “I love you,” she imparted as she left.
“Thank you,” Aira whispered to her mother after she had left, knowing that she couldn’t hear her.
“What do you mean she’s pregnant!” Olivia’s eldest son asked loudly. The family was sitting around the dining table eating lunch. Everyone was present - except for the children, who were on a picnic with their nannies – and Emmaline, who had returned home.
Olivia gave her tattletale daughter a stern look. Olivia’s husband, George, looked and felt as shocked as anyone. However, he was old enough to understand that these things happened, and felt it was his duty to defend his youngest child.
“Why can’t Aira be pregnant?” He asked his son.
“Well, she’s not married; she’s not even engaged!” He exclaimed in reply.
“How many of us can honestly say that we were married before we conceived our first child?” George asked, taking Olivia’s hand in his. She nodded in support.
The sons that hadn’t waited until marriage suddenly looked very interested in the ceiling while the daughters became very interested in their nails, blushing.
“Aira doesn’t want to talk about it, but she will tell us about it in her own good time. So nobody is to bother her about it, understood!” Olivia commanded in her no-arguments tone of voice.
Everyone nodded. Not daring to disagree with their mother. The conversation around the table turned to other things, such as to the normal affectionate family squabbles. With a family this large, it was hard not to be loud and boisterous.
Everyone fell silent as Aira entered the room.
“I’m sorry I have to leave, but one of the village women just went into labor and she needs me,” Aira announced.
“I don’t think that a woman in your condition should be riding a horse,” one of her brothers admonished.
“Riding a horse will not endanger her child,” Olivia scoffed.
Aira hugged everyone, and informed them that she would be staying with the new mother for a while. She made her way to the stable and mounted Tigerpaw.
“I missed you too,” Aira informed Tigerpaw as she raced towards the woman that was in labor’s house.
Go To Chapter 8
Go To Chapter 8