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The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter 1 Part 3 August 31, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp - Chapter 1.
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I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
– William E. Henley

CHAPTER I.3:  Birthin’ in Thelra

© D. Erick Emert

fighting

Outside the shakanu, Rathhcerie slipped into his position at the drums. He wore a wig made from the light brown husks of the lokish plant. Thelra’s drummer presented a bizarre appearance. He covered the left side of his face with white stain, the right with a shiny black. One corner of Rathhcerie’s painted mouth curved up in a sublime smile. The other sunk downward in a somber frown. Now he started his drumbeat…tattooing a simple message, which would continue until the sounds of birth could be heard:

“Come ta Thelra.
Birthin’ here.
Come ta Thelra.
Birthin’ here.”

Biccata, the Elder of the village, long and thin with jet black hair even at the age of sixty-five, seated himself to Rathhcerie’s right. Two thirds of Thelra had gathered by now. The rest remained scattered throughout the trees surrounding the village, on guard as part of the Eyes of the Weald. Each Cord took their turn as members of this force.

Those who awaited the birthing chanted songs led by Jacattou, the elder planter. Planters held the position of healers, who worked with medicinal flora and herbs.

Many of the men’s bodies exhibited painted symbols that told stories of their deeds in battle. This showed returning spirits that Thelra’s Cords remained passionate and worthy of their selection.

A youngster turned to his mother and asked, “Mama, how comes we burn a fire taday that is smoky?”

His mother smiled and said, “You are right ta notice that, karne, for by usin’ agotchu seeds our fires never give off smoke. But taday is dif’rent. Cause a the birthin’ we want ta attract the spirit o’a strong, fierce n devoted warrior lookin’ for a body ta inhabit. Ya know how we say we’ll be birthed agen? Well taday one spirit will be birthed ta one a our Cords. The smoke will help attract it. Listen now, they begin singin’ the Cord songs. They call out ta the Hawk, Falcon, Wolf n Long Tooth Cords.”

Ke Keryl children.
Off spring a the air.
The mountains echo.
Blood is set ta run.
A donie births.
Alight.

Sha Batsu kin.
Range far wide distant.
There be good huntin’.
Fly low n soar.
Raise your wings.
Descend.

Lobot children.
Hungry n lean.
Death on padded feet.
Stalk your enemies.
They mourn n lament.
Now close.

Nag Katu kin.
Shake the mountain lands.
Cast the sacred meal.
Roar thund’rous with danger.
Turn n leap.
Emerge.”

The mother continued to explain to her son. “The songs, drums, n fire will lure a searchin’ spirit ta the shakanu at the moment a birth. On o’casion, more than one essence will be ‘tracted n they will clash ‘bove the flames inna eerie vision a contrastin’ light n shadow till one prevails n the child is inhabited. If this is so, don’t be scared, karne.  Such must be or the child could be birthed without life.”

The fervor of the singing and dancing taking place in the virkum increased.

“But mama, won’t the Riggrathi see n hear all this?”

“Just as the child n mama are vulnerable ta death by the ordeal a birthin’, the n’tire village makes itselfs vulnerable ta death as well, by openin’ themselves ta detection by our enemies.”

Suspended in a crouching position, supported by Kariessie and Trachhie who also experienced her pain, Jalleli pushed one last time. Solloja caught the baby and helped it with the remainder of its escape. One swipe of Solloja’s knife cut the cord. Jalleli sank to the mat in exhaustion, yet strained for a glimpse of her baby. Solloja gave the little one a quick smack on the bottom.  It brought forth a gurgle followed by a healthy wail.

Rannabih and Mirjennie took the child, bathed and cleansed it. Solloja finished her work on Jalleli. All of this occurred in a silence broken only by the soft cries of the new baby.

Rannabih wrapped a soft goatskin blanket around the babe and handed her to Jalleli. “Your li’l hira,” she smiled.

Jalleli accepted the bundle as tears moistened her eyes. She felt her strength ease back into her body. Jalleli’s Cord sisters all knelt beside her, exhausted by their own pain but thrilled at the sight of the tiny newborn girl.

The people saw the faces of Gilrrie and Scakkif twist in pain as each felt every birth pang of their Cord sister, Jalleli. Those gathered continued singing, intensified now by the reactions of the two men. The thirteenth hour brought a single cry from the shakanu.  Not from Jalleli but from a newborn voice.

With the echo of that howl, the drumming stopped and the singing quit. Nothing but silence stirred in the village. Everyone caught their breath. All eyes focused on the opening of the shakanu.

Inside, Jalleli passed her baby to the doe-eyed redhead, Ciattie. “Is time,” she whispered. “Please, lift me up.”

Ciattie accepted the bundle as Kariessie and Gauggan helped Jalleli to her feet. Trachhie moved to the entrance then crawled down the access stake to the ground.  She waited as Kariessie and Gauggan followed.  Jalleli climbed down next, assisted by her Cord sisters.  Ciattie passed the baby to its mother and descended to the ground.  The virtuous women gathered in the doorway.  Jalleli and her sisters walked toward Elder Biccata, ruby-red rirchet eyes glowed in the firelight from the symbols on their chests.

Scakkif released Gilrrie from his bonds.  He rose and joined Jalleli as the women walked outside the circle.  They continued on to where Elder Biccata waited at the virkum.

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