Excerpt from the final book in the Lela Trilogy
Here is Chapter Three of Shades of Prophecy!
SPOILERS AHEAD – If you haven’t read Shadows of Lela Book One or Veil of Mist Book Two, this excerpt will definitely spoil the plot, so proceed at your own risk 🙂
SHADES OF PROPHECY
By Tessonja Odette
Chapter Three: Birth
“I told you not to travel,” Mother said as she looked down at me. “You should have listened. Now you have to give birth here.”
I breathed through the pain as my queensmaids rushed about, waking my midwives and gathering supplies. “It will pass. There’s nothing to worry about.” I’d already said as much about a hundred times, but no one listened.
“How could you think it will pass? Your child is due any day now.” Mother paced along the length of the bed.
“He isn’t due yet. It’s too early.”
Mother threw her hands in the air. “How can you argue with the calculations of the midwives? He is due now.”
The pain passed, and I narrowed my eyes at Mother. “No, he isn’t. It’s too early.”
Mother pressed her hand to her mouth and sat beside me on the bed. “Mareleau, I want to be here for you, but you are making it difficult.” Her voice shook, likely from the effort not to yell. “Your words make no sense. How can you fail to see reason yet again?”
The pain on my mother’s face made me feel empty. I’d seen her fierce power drained, pouring out in rivers of tears too many times over the past few months to count. My father’s death had broken her, while I continued to stress her as much as I ever had before. I reached my hand toward hers. She turned to me, brows knit together as if she couldn’t comprehend the meaning of the gentle touch. Her eyes studied my face.
“Mother, I have to tell you something.” I kept my voice low so the women flitting about the room couldn’t hear. “I lied about being pregnant when Father tried to marry me to Teryn. I didn’t conceive until my wedding night.” The words felt like fire as they moved over the lump in my throat, but once they were freed, I felt as if a weight had lifted from my chest.
Her eyes went wide, but she said no word of reproach.
“I only said what I thought would convince Father to allow me to marry Larylis. I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have—” Another wave of pain rippled through my abdomen, hips, and back, unlike anything I’d ever felt before. When it passed, I found Mother still watching me.
“You weren’t already pregnant the day you married Larylis?”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry, Mother. It’s my fault. If Father hadn’t sent me here…if he hadn’t allowed me to marry Larylis…”
“Don’t.” Mother’s voice was stern as her eyes overflowed. “Don’t you dare blame yourself for his death.”
“But it’s my fault.” My face twisted as I heaved a sob.
“It isn’t your fault, and I don’t want to hear another word about it. What matters now is you and your baby.” She looked from my face to my belly. “He isn’t due now after all.”
“No. He’s early. Dangerously early.”
Mother squeezed my hand. “You are both going to get through this.”
“Your Majesty, Queen Coralaine is here,” Breah said as Cora raced to the side of the bed.
Cora looked around the busy room. “What can I do?”
I reached toward her. “Just stay with me. Please?”
Her eyes widened at my extended hand, then grasped it in hers with a nod.
Somehow, her presence set my nerves at ease. My shoulders relaxed, and my breathing steadied. “Thank you, Cora. I just need a friend right now.”
The sun was beginning to rise by the time Mareleau was ready to give her final push. I held her hand in mine, wiping sweat from her brow and offering calm words of encouragement. Her mother stayed at her other side, wordless.
“This is it, Mare. You can do this,” I whispered. “The baby is so close.”
Her face turned red as she pushed, and her midwives waited with bated breath at the end of the bed. My eyes remained locked on Mareleau’s face to keep my mind from slipping to memories of the last woman who’d attempted to give birth within the walls of Ridine Castle. Those dark times are over, I reminded myself.
“We can see his head,” said one of the midwives. “One more push.”
She took a deep breath, lifted her head, and pushed again. With a groan of relief, she threw her head back and sank into the pillows behind her. The gasps on the other end told me the baby had come.
I smiled and squeezed her hand. “You did it, Mare.”
She smiled back, eyes closed. “Where is he?”
I cast a glance at the midwives and sensed a tremor of alarm. My eyes returned to Mareleau. “Him?” I asked, trying to keep the worry from my voice. “Do you think it’s a boy?”
She opened her eyes and smirked. “Every queen says him when she’s with child. I almost want it to be a girl just out of spite.” She tried to pull herself to sitting, and I helped by propping pillows behind her. She looked at me and grinned. “But yes, I really think it’s a boy.”
Her mother joined the midwives and tossed us an anxious glance.
Mareleau tried to sit straighter to see over the fluttering hands and shuffling bodies. “Where is he? Bring him to me.”
One of the women turned around, eyes wide and lips pressed into a tight line. “He isn’t breathing, Your Majesty. And he’s…so tiny.”
No, not again. Images of Linette lying pale and limp amongst bloodstained sheets flashed through my mind. I shook my head to clear the visions and blinked at the bundle in the woman’s arms.
“Bring him here,” Mareleau demanded.
“Bring him to me now.” Her voice was powerful, despite her weak condition. Without further argument, the woman brought the bundle and placed it in Mareleau’s arms.
I stepped away, my breathing becoming more and more shallow while Mareleau stared down at her baby. My heart felt as if it were torn in two as pain surged through me. Not again. This can’t happen again.
Mareleau appeared calm yet focused as she held her baby close, his tiny, pink cheek against her pale, bare chest. She lowered her face to his and placed her lips over his head. I was transfixed as I watched, feeling as if time had become slowed.
That’s when I saw it.
Or rather, felt it. A subtle light flowing from mother to child, pouring out of her hands, her chest, and her lips as it wrapped around the baby like a cloak. As it grew brighter around the baby, it illuminated Mareleau as well.
The baby began to cry, and time seemed to flow once again. Sound erupted as the women cheered and returned to their work. I remained still against the wall, contemplating what I’d witnessed.
“Cora, come see him! I knew it was a boy.”
Mareleau’s voice shook me from my stupor. The midwives stepped aside and allowed me to approach. An impossibly tiny baby boy moved against her chest, making my heart flutter at the sight. “He’s beautiful, Mareleau.”
“He’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Her face glowed as she stared at him, reminding me of the illumination I’d witness not a moment before. Her eyes lifted to mine. “Thank you for staying with me.”
“You’re welcome.” I could find no other words to say when all I wanted to do was ask her about what I’d seen. She’d used the Arts. There was no mistaking it.
“Will you find Larylis? And Teryn, too. I want them to meet him.”
I forced a smile. “Of course.”
By the time I returned with Teryn and Larylis, the room was calm and quiet. As we stepped through the doorway, Mareleau lifted her eyes from her nursing baby. A wide grin spread over her face when her eyes fell on her husband. “Larylis! Come see our son.”
Helena rose from the edge of the bed, eying Teryn and Larylis with a glare, making them pause. “You shouldn’t be here. Men should never attend a birthing bed until the mother has rested and healed.”
“Mother, don’t be so old-fashioned. Let them in.”
Helena grumbled before stepping aside and allowing Larylis to approach. I stood at Teryn’s side by the door while we watched Larylis greet his wife and baby.
“What will we name him?” Larylis asked, voice trembling and tears streaming down his face.
Mareleau studied her baby for a moment. “How about Liam?”
“Liam. I like that.” He kissed Mareleau on the cheek, then leaned forward to kiss the back of Liam’s head.
Teryn brought his lips to my ear. “If we can’t…you know…make our own baby, we could always make little Liam our heir.”
I looked at him and smiled. “You think so?”
My eyes moved back at Liam, and my heart felt calm. In that moment it seemed as if the answer to all my worries had been before me all along. Why had I ever worried about being barren? Why had I ever worried Teryn wouldn’t have me as his wife? Of course we’d find a way. There’d always been a way.
“We could unite our kingdoms,” Teryn said, “like Larylis and Mareleau did with Sele and Mena to form Vera. He’d be heir to—”
“All of Lela.” My throat went dry as the words left my mouth. Other words that I’d believed had become meaningless rushed through my mind.
The Blood of Ailan will unite the land by royal birth and magic right and return El’Ara’s heart.
My head began to spin as threads of the prophecy swirled around me, as bright and solid as a tapestry.
Where the veil abandoned its heart, one will be born that will stop the Blood of Darius. Only then will the veil be torn.
I stared at Mareleau, heart hammering in my chest.
Beauty of Satsara. Right by magic and blood. The unicorn will signify her awakening. Foreigners will flood the land. The heart of El’Ara will unite as one.
Could it be? But how?
Her son will be born under the house of the black mountain.
My eyes darted around the room. Everywhere I looked, Kero’s sigil was carved into furniture, painted on the walls, and stitched into tapestries.
Morkai had it wrong. I was never meant to be the Mother of Prophecy.
Visions of El’Ara flooded my mind. I saw the colorless veil and heard lightning ripping through it. In the center of the veil, a crack was forming.
I shuddered as my attention returned to Mareleau’s room, the happy voices in stark contrast to the terror running through me.
“What’s wrong?” Teryn asked. “You’ve gone pale.”
I took a deep breath. “The Blood of Ailan lives.”
Copyright 2019 Tessonja Odette
I hope you enjoyed reading this excerpt! To read the rest of the adventure, be sure to get Shades of Prophecy when it releases August 21st 2019. For more bonus content, visit the World of Lela.