Rain pelted down on the thatched room of the hut, and the dark unyielding clouds kept spitting lightening and crackling with thunder. The winds howled through the dense, almost jungle like foliage and tore at the walls of the hut. The storm had been raging for eleven hours and twelve minutes, the exact amount of time that the Lady of the Lake had been in labor.
Blood curdling screams emanated from the dimly lit hut, and The Merlin paced the soaked ground under a thick tree. His boots were soggy, and his cloak was muddy. Matted hair clung to the sides of his haggard face. He was worried; The Lady had not had an easy pregnancy, and she was past her best child bearing years. His eyes widened with fear as a strangled scream that turned into an anguished moan came from the hut. The moan trailed off into silence.
When the silence had become too much for The Merlin, he ran across the slick grass, the storm having died down to a soft drizzling rain. At the door of the hut, he took a deep breath, calmed himself, and then entered, nearly colliding with Myrna, the elder midwife, in the cramped little hut.
"Bryna!" The Merlin said locating The Lady around the clumsy midwife. Her face was gaunt, body contorted into an impossible position, and her wonderful golden amber eyes stared at him, blank and lifeless. With a sigh, The Merlin reached an arm forward, and brushed his hand over her face, shutting the dead woman's eyelids.
"The babe?" He asked sternly as he turned to the midwives. Keeva, the younger midwife, stepped forward with a still bundle of swaddling. She was trembling in grief and fear. The Merlin closed his eyes at the thought of both lives being taken on this retched night, but a soft gurgle made him reopen them quickly.
"She is quite strong and healthy," Myrna said, taking the child from Keeva's inexperienced hands, and handing her to The Merlin. He looked down into the eyes of the infant. She was small, even for a girl child, but he could see her strength and health in her gaze. She did not squirm or cry, fuss or whine, the babe lay perfectly still, and her eyes moved around as if taking in her surroundings.
"Look at her," The Merlin said. "She is already displaying intelligence, this is not her first life here."
"She will grow into a great woman," Myrna agreed. "Keeva, bring the babe to the Wet Nurses, she will need to feed soon," The midwife added, carefully placing the infant back in Keeva's arms. Keeva nodded, gave a small curtsey to The Merlin, and then exited the cramped hut. The Merlin followed the girl outside. The night had grown silent and still and the dark clouds had receded, revealing only stars.
"We will have to watch her carefully, she will be hunted all her life," Myrna said joining The Merlin. The man nodded. He crouched down on the grass and wet his hands with the lingering raindrops. He stood once more and whipped the drops over his face, cleansing himself.
"No," The Merlin said. "She will not know of her true heritage, not until she is ready."
"You mean to have her sent away?" Myrna asked looking horrified.
"I mean to keep her safe," The Merlin said.