17 Years Ago
The Chief stood outside his home awaiting the arrival of his child. For someone known for his ability to remain calm in stressful situations, he was uncharacteristically nervous. He'd never admit it, but his hands were sweating, and his heart hadn't beat in a normal rhythm in hours.
The sounds of his Woman’s labored screaming would have driven him mad were it not for the assurance the Healer had given him that both his Woman and his child would survive this night. That didn’t make it easier for him to stay away. She’d been in labor since just after nightfall and the sun was now just peeking over the horizon, bleeding onto the lake his tribe overlooked. He’d been told by the Healer to stay outside. That it was no place for a man to be when his Woman is giving birth. But staying away while his first child was being born was easier said than done.
His Woman screamed again. This time not even the Spirits could stop him from ignoring the Healer’s words and rushing in to make sure that his beloved and child were alright. Precautions be damned. He was only a man.
As he entered their dwelling, he saw his Woman’s normally calm face appearing fatigued, flushed and covered in perspiration. He saw the Healer stationed between her legs trying to assist in the delivery of their child. He saw the Healer’s young Apprentice standing beside his Woman whispering assurances to her while the Woman squeezed her hand so tightly that it lost most of its color. He tried not to look between his Woman’s legs. He’d heard stories of men who’d lost consciousness watching their Woman give birth and it would be embarrassing for him to do so after so blatantly ignoring the words of the Healer. None of them had turned upon his entry so none of them knew he was in the room.
Suddenly a ball of blue, white and gold light about the size of the Chief’s head floated into the room. The Chief had never seen a Spirit before, nor had he seen a Spirit’s essence, but he believed that this ball of light was the intertwined essences of the Sun and the Moon Spirits. For the Sun Spirit’s presence, he was grateful. Of the Moon Spirit’s presence, he was weary. The Sun Spirit symbolized prosperity and hope. The Moon Spirit symbolized the unknown and often the unsavory.
The ball hovered over his Chieftess’s stomach that still contained their baby then dropped through her skin pulling a blood curdling cry from her throat that had nothing to do with pain and everything to do with fear. Fear the chief shared.
The Sun Spirit was not known to harm, but the Moon Spirit was unpredictable. What would become of their child? The Chief had heard the tales of the men and women who were slaves to the Moon. Would their child be that too? Would their child be a Moon beast?
The baby was born soon after that. A girl too dark to be of his people. Were she older, the Chief would swear she’d spend all of her time in the sun as her skin was so dark it was no longer the bronze of his tribe, it was deep brown. Her hair on the other hand contrasted her skin deeply as it wasn’t the dark, ebony color of those born to his tribe but rather a deep grey that one would ordinarily associate with age but that could be explained by the fact that she was only just born – the Chief hoped. It would be too much to find out his Woman had birthed a Moon beast. At least the baby cried. She was alive even if she wasn’t necessarily normal.
But it wasn’t over. The Chieftess remained in labor position, pushing as though she wasn’t aware that the baby was no longer inside her. It took the Chief a moment to realize that the reason for her discomfort was that there was another baby inside his Woman.
The Healer repositioned herself between the Chieftess’s legs, encouraging her to keep pushing. The second baby didn’t take as long to be born as the first.
The second was a boy who looked more like a child of his people. His bronze coloring was that of any average boy of his tribe. However, if the chief looked closely enough, he could see a slight glow to the boy’s skin. It was almost imperceptible, but it was there.
At that moment, the meaning of everything that had happened that morning became clear to the Chief. His daughter had taken on the appearance of the spirit whose essence she now hosted. As had his son. The Sun Spirit essence now resided in his son and the Moon Spirit essence now resided in his daughter.
His newborn children represented a balance his people knew much of but hadn’t experienced for generations. Whatever fault the Moon Spirit may have, it’s coexistence with the Sun is a good one. And the Spirits had entrusted him and his Woman with the upbringing of their human incarnations. This could only mean that his people were to undergo a kind of change in the near future, and his two children would be important advisors during that time. The Chief filled with pride.
“Sol,” the Chieftess said, breaking the unintentionally thick silence. “His name will be Sol. And hers will be Aluna. Sol and Aluna.”