Contributed by Larissa Peltier
There was something different in her mother’s eyes. Karice did not want to hand over her baby sister to it. She jerked her head towards the cradle. “It’s her nap time, I’ll put her to sleep,” she said, trying to sound nonchalant about it even though her chest was tight with fear.
“Karice, listen to me right now! Give her to me!” Beija demanded.
“No, she needs a nap or she’ll get cranky!” Karice refused her mother with all the authority her high voice could muster.
Beija lost her patience. She dropped the spoon back into the pot and angrily walked over to Karice and tried to pry the baby from her arms, but the stubborn little girl would not let go. Icene grew frightened from the jostling and began to cry.
Karice started crying too. “I know what you’re going to do and I’ll tell Papa,” she threatened through her tears.
Beija took a step back in shock at her daughter’s sharp words. Then she grew angry and wrenched the baby from Karice’s arms and set her down on the floor. Grabbing Karice by her upper arm, she dragged the protesting girl to the door. “Don’t talk to me like that, you insolent brat,” Beija said as she cast Karice outside and locked the door.
Karice was terrified for Icene. She banged her fists on the door shouting, “No Mama, not her! Use me Mama, please! I’ll do it Mama, not Icene! Mamaaaa!” Karice turned to run to their neighbor, Mirren’s. The elderly healer lived on the other side of the valley and it would be too late by the time she reached her, but Karice did not know what else to do. Her mother was mad and Mirren was the nearest adult. She ran across the paving stones towards the path that led down to the river, but halted abruptly at the sight that came into view.
Riven left the house at dawn with a heavy heart. He packed enough possessions for the trip, but an unsettled feeling remained the whole morning as he rode his horse on the narrow mountain trail. He had everything he needed, but the argument with his wife would not leave his mind. Such a bitter one, and unresolved when he departed. That was a first.
He was used to Beija’s disappointment with her life, but what could he do? They had two daughters that needed a safe place to grow up. If Beija couldn’t accept the sacrifice she believed she made living in the mountains, then that was unfortunate. He didn’t like the idea of breaking her spirit, but it was his responsibility to decide what was best for their family. Break her spirit and overpower her will with his own, he didn’t want to do it. It was her fiery nature that had drawn him to her in their youth. But with his children’s well-being on the line, Beija would just have to learn to be a good mother because the days of battle and enchantment were over for them.
Riven closed his eyes at the memory of those exciting days. He and Beija had met in the midst of the last Domain War. It was he who lost, his heart captured, his good sense conquered. What a vixen she was, with the sparkle in her eye that brought him to his knees and a smile that enslaved him.
Riven snapped to the present. Now they were parents with a new mission, one far more important - the mission to protect and provide for their daughters as best they could. And if that meant that he had to isolate Beija and the girls deep in the wild ranges of Lindane, then it would be so and no other way. But her silence. It was as if she had given up on communicating with him. And her eyes, her pretty eyes were hard and set. Riven reigned in his horse. Maybe he should’ve stayed and taken Beija on an outing to wherever she wanted to go. Mirren wouldn’t mind looking after the girls for a day. Maybe that would make her happy, just the two of them alone and traveling like when they first met. Yes, that look in her eyes was bad and he couldn’t leave her like that. Riven whirled his steed around on its heels. He kicked his hose into a swift gallop despite the treacherous path. He didn’t know why the urgency, just that it was necessary.
Riven reached his house and his stomach dropped. He dismounted and caught up his desperate daughter in his arms, trying to make sense of her hysterics. “Mama has Icene! Stop her, she’s gonna hurt her! She’s got Icene and she locked the door!”
Riven’s eyes widened. She wouldn’t, not their own child. She couldn’t. It was too painful to think she would. He strode to the house and busted the door open with one determined kick. There stood his wife with ladle in hand. Riven’s worse fear was true and he raged inside. There, writhing at Beija’s feet, was his baby. He ran to Icene and cradled her in his arms. Icene looked at him with large eyes, trusting her father to make the terrible pain stop. But Riven was helpless as she screamed. “Do something!” he yelled at Beija.
“Enchantment can’t be undone,” she replied, and left the room.