Once in a Lifetime

This is what the Ancient tell us:

"At the times when the universe was still young and the Gods still used to walk amongst the mortal, men and all creatures looked entirely different. They were only to be seen in couples, two males, two females or one of each walking together never to be separated.
And those creatures were content with themselves and with the world around them, because they had all they could wish for.
But the Gods were jealous because their creations had turned out to be better then the creators themselves. Now it is well known that you can't control a folk that is ever content with what they have unless you have something to challenge them with. So the Gods decided to herd them together an to divide the pairs they had made into singles and thus drive them apart and let them live as halves.
Since then, men and women, chervine and banshee and all living creature that has ever roamed the countless planets has tried from birth 'til death to find its other half. Only in rejoining they knew they could find peace and feel complete again.
And if you are lucky you will be one of those, who, once in a lifetime, meets his matching counterpart and has a single chance to re-unite"

* * * *

When I was young and daring I left the house of my fathers and turned to live as a free woman. I joined the Guild of the Renunciates and swore to never wed a man or to be his mistress or his slave.

It never occurred to me that I might not always be in control of what would happen to me.

* * * *

One day I was called to a place called Shadowcraig where a woman was due with her first child. I knew it would take me about six days to get there so I saddled my horse and took a pony to carry my baggage. I made my way along the northern raod towards the mountains and arrived at Shadowcraig the 5th day late at night. I was surprised to find a couple of servants because the place was the outmost stronghold in the mountains that was constantly inhabited. I had already wondered how a woman could live here, let alone bear a child.

The servants were friendly and showed me to my room. An elderly servant who's name was Reuel explained, that the Domna was well and would probably not give birth for another week. I had been called, merely because it was her first child and there was no other woman out here. He gave me a wry look with this but seemed to decide I needed no more warning. Men out in the mountains could be rude at times but I felt sure I could defend myself. How wrong was I! And in a way I least expected.

* * * *

The next morning I went to see the Domna Luisa. And what a Domna she was!
I had never before seen a woman so strong in will and character that had not been an Amazon. She was pregnant with her belly bulging in front of her, but that only seemed to enforce her voice and her temper when she commanded her staff. She was still agile and working, carrying stuff around and being obviously annoyed about the fuzz they made about her unborn. The only one to remain calm was her husband Alaric, but I heard he was hardly ever seen around the house. He roamed the area, checking the boundaries and the estate.

After the mornings duties were done and Domna Luisa had time to sit down for a while we had breakfast together. I sensed that she was worried about something and it was rather easy to persuade her that I should examine her at least once before the labor would start.
We retreated into Luisas bedroom and she lay down on the bed. When I took her hand I felt immediately that she also had a faint Laran. For now, this would make it easy for me to monitor her but going into rapport with someone who was severely ill without having a technician to monitor myself could be very dangerous. Nevertheless, I pushed the thought aside and just hoped nothing would go wrong.

She was easy to work with. Her mind gave way willingly and let me operate.
I started to float into her mind and eased her worries. She relaxed a little and I entered her channels which seemed so familiar to me, they could have been my own. Her outer appearence reflected her healthy condition and when I reaches the uterus, I could feel a lovely, quite healthy baby-girl. Its heart beat, muscles were working and I could even see it sucked its thumb. But the baby was still in an upright position. It was ready to enter the world any moment but it hadn't turned around to come out head first. A problem, that with a little luck could be helped.

My mind left Domna Luisas body as easily as I had entered. I told her what I had seen, feeling, she might already know.

"Mestra Jaelle" she addressed me "I knew something was wrong but I was hoping you could help me. Will this endanger my child?"

"I don't know, Vai Domna, if I can help you. I must admit that my education as a Laran healer was never completed. Besides without a supervision I would endanger us both. What we can do is try to turn the baby now from outside your belly or during labor when we can get in. In fact, trying to turn it now would probably start the labor anyway. Have your decision."

I knew most women would have decided to wait. Especially inducing labor before it was absolutely necessary scared most to death. Not so Domna Luisa. She told me, any day would be as good as the other and thus at least she could prepare everything without haste. And that's what she did. She told the servants to heat water, bring towels and bowls and even sterilize my surgery equipment which I sure hoped I wouldn't need.

Before the day was half over we started the therapy. I tried to turn the baby around by massaging her belly and giving her directions for certain practices. After less then an hour she was so exhausted that we decided to quit. I put her to sleep for a while and withdrew from her room keeping a mental bond with her so I would be at hand, should she need me.

* * * *

In the house everything went the usual way. I offered my help in the kitchen but was ushered away by the cook. I checked on Domna Luisa again an found her sleeping paecefully. Sice there was nothing else to do for me, I decided to take a ride around the estate. Maybe I would run around Dom Alaric and hve a little private talk.

The country around Shadowcraig was scarce but beautiful. Sloping hills, huge mountains on the horizon, rocks and scattered trees. I let the horse have its way until we came to a large meaddow. We both felt the urged for a run. My horse fell into a gallop and we jumped some rocks and fallen trees enjoying the speed and cold air that freed my mind and made me feel good.
Suddenly fom out of the woods came another horse with a rider. He startet to gallop beside me and although I didn't know him I wasn't afraid. For a couple of minutes we ran a friendly race. Then the meadow changed into rocky plains and we had to slow the horses down.
He turned his horse to me and reached out his hand.

"My name is Eduin of Lohill, Dom Alarics brother." He smiled when he shook my hand. "I reccon you are the midwife we were expecting?"

"Indeed, Vai Dom, you guessed well. My name is Jaelle n'ha Gilla. Para servite."

"You are a very skilled rider, Maestra Jaelle. I had problems keeping up with you. But weren't you afraid, riding alone in this country?"
I laughed "Thank you, Dom Eduin, you challenged me quite well. And, no, I was not afraid. As you can see from the sword I am waring, I can definitely defend myself."

I knew from the start that I liked him. He had vivid blue eyes, red hair like mine and a humor I cherished. We chatted on while riding back and just before reaching the buildings, he excused himself and was gone in a second. His laughter still rang in my ears.

* * * *

That evening at dinner I was asked to the table as a guest. This seems common courtesy but it often happened to me that I was merely accepted for my services and ignored otherwise. The reason for this is that I'm a Renunciate. Men are usually nervous around me and women seem afraid but I got used to it. There are many prejudices and stories told. We would despise all men, even kill them if we can, we would kidnap women from their families and turn them against their families, and many more. None of this is true.

Nevertheless in this house I didnít feel awkward. I was welcome and wanted and my knowledge greatly appraised.
Dom Alaric himself met me at the door and let me to the table. I sensed a worry around him but was too well mannered to read his thoughts. If he wanted to talk about his wife with me, he was welcome to do so in private.

Dom Eduin also joined the table. We were being introduced by Domna Luisa, who was rather cheerful and nothing in Eduins behaviour showed that we had already met. I let him have his way. Maybe he thought it wasn't propper that we had spent the afternoon together alone. In the course of introduction he explained he was visiting his brother mainly to be at hand when his sister-in-law gave birth.
"I know, I won't be of much help at the procedure itself, but at least I can run the estate should Alaric be needed with Luisa."

The dinner went by with chatting and courtesy and I got more compliments that night then I had for the last few years. Dom Eduin made a point of praising my looks and my humor and I felt attracted to this good looking man. When I excused myself for the night and left the table he offered to lead me to my room. Somhow, I had known he would say this. The whole afternoon and at dinner as well, I had had the feeling, I knew what he would say and do and he knew before what I thought and did.

We left the house and went around to the side building. At the corner he took my arm and lead me gently to bench under a nearby tree. We sat down and tickle went down my spine. Again I had the feeling I knew what would come.

"Jaelle, I know we hardy know each other. But somehow I seem to know you all my life. This afternoon at the meaddow - I just knew I had to be there and then I saw you. Everything you do and say I know before it happens. It feels like a bond we have that synchronizes our thoughts and actions.
I have no right to push you into something, but plaese tell me, do you feel the same or is it just a ghostwind in my mind?"

At first I was shocked. I was a Renunciate, a Free Amazon, so independent and strong. How could I be connected to a man? Any man? But was true. I had blocked the thought from my mind before but deep inside I had known it. We swam on the same mental wave. We knew before, what the other would say, would do and thought at any given moment. When I did not answer imediately he added:

"Jaelle, I feel I found my missing half. I have never seen a woman I loved, wanted and respected so much."

"Dom Eduin, you know I am an Amazon. I cannot marry you nor could I drag you around on my travels. A relationship would be bound to fail before it even starts." And then I looked into his face and saw the look in his eyes. I knew he wouldn't give in and I knew I wouldn't resits.

* * * *

The next morning brought no change. I woke up and asked myself if the last night had been a dream. Eduin was gone, so far I couldn't even sense him, let alone hear or see. The house was full of servants and I heard Luisa order them as around she had done the day before. I pushed the thought of Eduin aside and got up. After breakfast we went back to the practices and I felt the baby move inside Luisa's body. Suddenly I saw her wince and draw a face. When she saw my concerned look she smiled: "I should be the one to look worried, I'm getting the child"

"But, Domna, this is not the regular labor. It was induced by our practices as I told you. I fear it will not last to push the baby into its new life. If we continue now, we will have to bear it, no matter what."

Again she decided on going on. She wanted it to be over, NOW! She ordered the servants to prepare as she had done yesterday. I went to my room to fetch some herbs I had collected on my way and brewed a tea that would help her relax.

"Shouldnít we wait at least until your husband comes home?" I asked but she shook her head. "Men are so clumsy and helpless when their women are in pain. Iíd rather have the servants here who are used to obey my orders."

Reuel stood close beside me when I gave her the tea. Labor came faster now, every two minutes I estimated. Then suddenly her water broke and Luisa screamed. I could see the baby move downwards and two servants supported her by the arms when she pressed. Another scream, then she grabbed my hand... It filled me like a shock. Suddenly we were one. My mind and hers fused, I felt her pain, her fear, her will inside my mind. And yet I wasnít paralyzed as she was. I was able to move and to react. I tried to fight it half heartedly. I knew without beeing monitored myself I could well die with her. But I also knew I could help her with my energies and we could manage together.

Then another wave came. We saw the baby move to the cervix, butt first. We felt the uterus contract and the pain. We felt the babies heart beat and the lungs prepare to breathe. We felt it stuck and we pushed and screamed as one. Then suddenly we felt sympathy... another mind entered the room... two other minds, two brothers. I heard Dom Eduin, no, heard his thoughts "Like Sybil, when we lost our child" and she heard Dom Alaric: "No, greatful Goddess, no, donít let her die! Forgive me, it was my fault! Donít let her suffer because I betrayed you" and we felt the shock and the pain together as one...

Then the next wave came and it was Dom Alaric who supported us on the right, his face pale and Dom Eduin on the left, stern and concentrated. We reached inside and felt the baby's feet and grabbed them and the next wave came and we pushed and pulled and the baby came, feet first, into a world of cold and dust and air away from the warm and wet and comfortable world of her mothers body. The three of us felt our lungs fill with air and the scream built up inside and the little girl screamed the most wonderful scream I had ever heard in a newborn child.

Reuel took her and wrapped her in a towel and Luisa and I broke down together and let go of all our senses. With my last effort I knew, we wanted to die. We had saved our baby but the men we loved had betrayed us and we were ready to leave. We felt the depression, I knew I would die with her... I knew... I...? I held her hand and my mind spoke to hers:

"Donít let go, Luisa! Your little girl needs you! She has the gift and if you die because your husband failed on you, she will hate you both. Come back and fight! Bring her up as a lucky child. She is worth your effort."

"I loved him so" her voice entered my mind "I never thought heíd ever make me feel so ashamed. When we overheard his thoughts I saw the image of another woman... How could he?
And Eduin Ė didnít he tell you he had a wife? Didn't he betray you, too? And her? How can you stand it?"

"I will forgive him" I answered "I don't know, yet, what will happen to us or if I will ever be able to forget, but I know that I love him. He is my counterpart, my missing half, and love will forgive everything."

She sighed, and I felt her weigh the arguments against her feelings. "I do love my husband, I always did. He was good to me from the start and even though the marriage was arranged by my parents I knew I wanted him. I guess I just thought he would be as truthful as he expected me to be."

"Don't judge him by a singe mistake he made. I know he loves you, too. And he is so proud of you and his firstborn child. If you truely love him, give him the chance to make it up to you."

Another sigh, then a deep breath and Domna Luisa came back to me. She came back to her life, her girl and eventually her husband.

* * * *

I left the house three days later. Luisa was still pale but she already commanded the servants as she used to do. The little girl was lying in her arms sleeping and her husband did all he could to make her forget what he knew she had suffered. From the look in her eyes I could tell, the wound would heal. She would forgive him and stay with him and she might even forget. This is how I will remember her and sometimes I think I can still feel her strength and will inside of me.

As for Dom Eduin, I was able to forgive but not to forget. I had felt friendship and love and respect, a deep kind of trust and understanding I had never felt before. With him near me I was complete and half without him. Still, I could share him with no wife and could not bind him to me alone because I had sworn not to bind myself to any man.

Riding downhill towards the river I had a strong feeling of being half or worse of being torn in half. So from now on, I will live without my matching counterpart... Or maybe it wasn't and I will go on searching 'til I die.

© Jae, 6-97