Under a full Luna in the month of Mae, there would be a child, fair as day. Peace will reign in all the lands when she rules with her loving hands.
This is the story of Lunamae
as told by her foster-sister and cousin, Muirenn.
Chapter 1 – Child of Night
I was twelve in the year 375 of the New Orindan Calendar when the village of Feyris was in uproar over a wonderful new arrival. It was the fifth day on the fifth month under the light of a full luna when my aunt, Chief Dame Angharad had finally carried her first child into the world. I only remembered the fevered screams and shouts coming from her chamber in the keep while she was in labor. I ran outside to try to find the warm and comforting arms of my mother. She was nowhere to be found and I realized she must have been with the chief dame as well as most of the other maidens of clan.
Angharad was of the clan Frys as was I. My father was her brother and my mother in due service paid her allegiance by being one of her attendants. My mother was from the clan of Yale in the North’s village of Feyln but my father married her by arrangement to keep the peace between the villages of Feyln and Feyris. She came here to live before the arrangement had been made (his parents liked her) and then they were allowed to have a family which is rare. There were the maidens of the clan who would assist the chieftain’s wife and they weren’t allowed to marry. Those who had gained favor and were allowed to marry local clansmen were called matrons. So my mother became a matron. The chieftain had his menfolk of course. They helped advise him in matters of trade and keeping the area secure from invaders. For the most part we keep to ourselves here. We didn’t typically get along with the other villages. We only had Moir Awin as a true ally because the chief dame’s husband was from there.
The chieftain had died six months prior at the Battle of Wortha Hill near Harper Wood. He was buried with the rest of his clansmen, the Vorkulsen, in a small crypt near Moir Awin’s chapel. I was told by Taros the Bard of the battle. I liked to follow him around and ask him questions on his travels whenever he frequented Feyris. It was a gory one with the people of Kyrie with death all around, and the waterfalls ran red with blood. Luckily I was a girl and not able to fight. I had two brothers who had gone. One had come back but he lives at home now in solitude. He lost his sword arm and couldn’t do much. He didn’t talk much either. It was all right though; I did the talking for most of the family anyway. Oftentimes my mother would tell me to keep my trap shut as I accompanied her in the keep. Not only was I blunt, but I had a tendency to let out secrets or be very rude to someone of a higher station.
The village of Feyris was built around the keep and had a moat surrounding it. There was a magical bridge on the end leading to the keep which had been mystified a few hundred years earlier. That side had a bit of a drop-off. They called it the Humble Bridge because if you think about yourself it will disappear. I was terrified of it. It didn’t seem to cause much trouble even with the traveling merchants coming through the King’s Pass from Aelisonia or those from the eastern region of Chalos or Southern Fanarion.
I ran through the village and finally found my father, the farrier. I figured my brother Logan wouldn’t be of much help as he had been in a rough sleep when I left the house. My father was washing one of the stabled horses to prep it for shoeing when I approached him. While cleaning the horse was not a requirement, he liked to add a personal touch to his business.
“What are you doing child, running around at this hour?” he asked strongly as he worked on untangling the mane of a mare. My father was not one to cross. He was not so tall, but what he lacked in height he made up in brawn. He was wide-shouldered with a strong frame, brown hair, and a solid beard. The lunalight had cast shadows upon his face which made him look especially grumpy.
I just bit my lip and looked into his face, trying to put on a slight pout. “I can’t sleep with everything going on out there and in the house,” I said confidently. “Logan is moaning again. Between that and Angharad in the keep …”
“It’s fine Muirenn,” he said. He had finished his work on the horse’s mane and began on the dirt and grime with a comb which had little teeth on the side. “Why do you think I’m out here? Your mother carried three and it was no less than the chief dame.”
“Doesn’t the midwife have anything to ease the pain?” I inquired. I was curious of things of nature and the lore of herbs was of exceptional interest. I believed the Creator puts healing things in the living plants for us to discover. I don’t think there is anything wrong with using what the Creator gave us in order to use for the good of others. Any decent woman would have a small chest on hand when traveling or at home which would be full of medicinal herbs. There were also some used for the culinary arts such as dianthus which was used in the summer to flavor dishes with a clove-like taste. Some people would rather grow it for the pretty flowering buds instead. Of course, that’s the reason why our village had an apothecary.
“She might have been unable to administer for fear of causing injury to the babe,” he answered me. “Your mother had told me there had been issues with the chief dame. If the chief dame isn’t able to procure an heir she would be forced to marry again. She does not want her title up for voting. I know it wasn’t something she would want to do. She loved Chieftain Leofric and didn’t want another man in her life, but she would rather marry again than give up being a chief dame. She wants peace and doesn’t think most of the men here care much for that. It is the way it is here; the rules of the village. You must have a child or a spouse to carry on ruling or a vote will be made for a new chieftain. If only a relation were necessary, then I would be able to rule.”
“Oh,” I said softly.
“It’s not something you should worry yourself with. You are too young to understand,” Father said, soothing the mare which was getting anxious from all the commotion in the village.
“I should probably go back to my needlework,” I said. “Mother has been getting upset with me for dawdling about with it.”
“It would be a better idea than being out here all night. I would worry for you being alone in the dark,” Father said. He took my hand and patted it. “Let me walk you home. This horse won’t be going anywhere for a while. I can finish her before morning.”
We walked back to the house where we lived. It was a two-room building which was a lot more than most people had. There were some who only lived in tents here but we had more because of our status. The house had a thatched roof and a dirt floor and only two windows that were open-air, but it was home. We passed a couple with people still tending them. You would think it was day by the amount of people out-of-doors but it would seem they had been in the same predicament as I. As we neared the house, I could hear my brother in the main room still moaning. I had the loft above and my parents had the second room for themselves. My father opened the door and went to his room to get a few more things for the horse he was cleaning and then left. I looked at my brother; his sword arm was making movements as much as could be done from where the stub remained. I was certain he was reliving the Battle of Wortha in his sleep. I slept in the loft above the eating and preparation area. There was a table and some chairs—we had five there for when my other brother was still alive—and then the stairs behind it that led to the loft.
I didn’t mind sleeping up there, away from everyone else. Mother often kept herbs drying off the side of the loft where it was darker and we had plenty of wind coming through via the windows. Their scents weren’t overpowering and helped me get to sleep. It was like breathing in a tea every night.
I went up to the loft and grabbed the cloth and the needle and thread I had nearby. I sat down on the pallet I had for a bed and started working. I had started on a depiction of the house we lived in and my family as we would have been if the war didn’t claim life. The outer of the cloth had each of the neighboring clan villages on it. There were the larger villages: Pinor, Alta, Moir Awin, Bexweth, Feyln, and Feyris, and then some smaller ones. I had carefully sewn in the names of Gwnydd, Caerbrok, Hannefyrd, and Bran.
I was lucky to still live with my parents. I had grown up in another house, that of the Rees, a very notable family in the village. Fosterage was typical here as it kept the village close. Usually a child is given to their oide and miume—or foster-father and mother—after a year of birth. They would stay with them until they were twelve and then be assigned another family until they were seventeen. After the battle, the chief dame said the fosterage would stop for a generation in order to facilitate new growth between the families who had lost the first-born heirs (such as mine with my older brother Bran). Her child would be part of the new generation.
I had been stitching one last part on the roof of the house when all the chaos outside stopped abruptly and I heard cheers instead of cries. I got down from the loft and ran out of the house as quickly as I could to see what was the matter. Before I knew it, my mother was running out of the keep some distance away, her light brown hair unfurling from her formerly plaited head. Her dress looked like it was bloody but it didn’t seem as though she cared. She ran straight for the cook house. I assumed she went in there to get some food for the chief dame.
I decided to run after her to see what was going on. By the time I arrived to the cook house she was just leaving and quickly shooed me off, but allowed me three simple words:
“Lunamae has arrived.”