White Wyrms Chapter 4:Without a Name
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Nim appeared on the Mathis’s doorstep. He hoped they were home. He realized they should have scried first. He knocked on the door. There was no response. He knocked again, louder. Then he remembered the doorbell. He pressed the button. He was about to press it again when Carla opened the door.
“Nim?” She saw his face. “What happened?”
He burst into the tears he’d been fighting since Thailyn first stopped the labor. “Jo and the baby aren’t going to make it,” he said when he could speak. “I know you haven’t been a nurse for a long time but is there any way you can help? They want to do a C-section but don’t know what they’re doing. When they tried with Ann’s mom, they cut her badly and even cut Ann. No one knows what else to do.” He forced it all out before he could break down again, barely stopping to take a breath.
“Of course I’ll come. It’s been a long time, but I should be able to help some. It’s not like the healers don’t know anything. Let me tell Steve I’m going.”
“I can bring you both if you want. I know it’s been a while since you saw Cari.”
“Are you sure?”
“Okay. Just give us a moment.”
A short time later, they were back in Menthanla.
Shunati helped Carla find a robe that fit her to protect her clothes. As he cast a spell to take care of germs, Thailyn allowed Nim a chance to greet Jo but said he needed to wait with the others. Nim understood and left without a complaint.
He waited with the others, drawing and pacing. They tried to keep him distracted but it was difficult. Finally, Shunati came out holding a baby. “Congratulations, Dad. It’s a boy.”
“A boy?” Nim grinned. He took the baby from the healer. The healers had thought it was a boy but had been unsure. There had even been a concern there might be twins at one point. “How’s Jo?”
“The others are working on her. I need to go back in and help. Things don’t look too bad.” He returned to the other room.
Nim sat with the baby, talking to the child softly.
“Care to share, Dad?” Ann asked after a few moments. Nim smiled and handed her the baby.
“What are you going to name him?” Amelia asked.
Nim looked up at her in horror. “I can’t tell you that.”
“They believe it’s bad luck to name the child before the naming ceremony,” Steve explained. “If you name a child too soon, he won’t survive.”
“When’s the ceremony?” Curt asked.
“A week after the child’s born,” Ann said.
“A week? The poor child has to go nameless for a week?” Amelia asked.
“It’s better than the child dying,” Pt’this said.
“Do you really believe the child will die if you name him right away?” Curt asked.
“A lot of children do okay,” Nim admitted. “But why take chances? He’s already been through enough problems. It’s only a week.”
“It used to be a year,” Morina said. “Many children didn’t make it. Slowly, as more and more children survived, they shortened the waiting period.”
“You’re welcome to stay until the ceremony if you want,” Nim offered.
“I don’t know if we can.” Curt stroked his chin, debating.
“I had Susan cancel all our appointments for the next few days. I’m not sure about rescheduling a full week,” Amelia added.
“You can come back,” Ann suggested. “Or, we can scry you.”
Curt nodded. “We’ll figure something out.”
They each took a turn holding the baby. Nim had just gotten his son back when Thailyn came out followed by Carla and the healers.
“How is she?” Nim asked.
“She’s resting. It was close for a bit, but she’ll be fine,” Thailyn assured him.
Nim let out a sigh and hugged the baby.
“I’m not going to recommend not having any more kids, but depending on how the next one goes, you might need to rethink having eight kids. Jo won’t handle this seven more times.”
Nim nodded. “Can I see her?”
Thailyn grinned. “You better go in. I think she wants to hold the baby.”
Nim laughed. He took the baby to see Jo.
Jo opened her eyes as he entered. “How are you feeling?” Nim asked as he laid their son in her arms.
“I’m okay, a bit sore.”
Nim kissed her and sat with her on the bed, holding her. “Congratulations, Mom.”
She smiled at that and her eyes lit up. Nim didn’t need the bond to know how proud she was.
“Are you okay?” Jo asked.
“Your mom asked his name,” Nim growled.
“Did you tell them?”
“Then don’t worry about it. They can find out next week, like everyone else,” Jo said.
“But they still asked.”
“We never did explain that to them. They don’t do that back there. Babies get named right away, sometimes even before they’re born. People start using the name as soon as they know if it’s a boy or girl.”
“Do they really?” Nim was surprised.
Jo nodded. “Yes, most babies are born quite healthy and do quite well.”
“Do you mind not naming him yet?”
“No, I told you that. We’re here. We’ll follow local customs. It’s only a week.”
Nim smiled. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Jo called.
Her parents and Andy’s came in. “We’re going to take your folks upstairs. Is there a room you prefer them in?” Carla asked.
“Maybe one overlooking the garden.” Jo shrugged and looked at Nim.
He nodded. “Next to our receiving room.”
“There’s just one thing I’d like to do first, if I may,” Curt said. He stepped into the room and pulled out his cell phone.
“Uh, Dad, we don’t get good reception here.” Jo smiled.
“I’m taking a picture of our daughter and her family.” He took the picture and showed them. “I’ll make you a copy for the next time we see you.”
“Thanks,” Nim said. He loved drawing but these instant pictures were quite interesting too.
“We’ll let you three be,” Curt said and they left.
“Do you know what else we never told them?” Nim asked his wife.
“That we live in a palace.”
“I’m never going to hear the end of it.”
“This is only temporary.”
“Temporary? You’ve been stationed here for seven years.”
“Jaidu is almost of age. The council won’t need me here anymore after the wedding.”
“Then where will we go?”
“I’m still teaching. We could stay at the college until we find someplace in town.”
Jo nodded. “That might work.”
“Or we can stay in Baj-tisk.”
“That would make a bit of a commute since we both work here.”
“True. How do you think your parents would feel about us living in a cave?”
Jo groaned. “They might like the art on the walls.”
“Oh yeah, because they love that you married an artist.” Nim rolled his eyes. Jo’s parents had the idea that artists were some lower class of people. They never actually said it, but neither was happy Jo married an artist.
Nim hadn’t married Jo for them or their money. He had enough money of his own, probably more than they did. He didn’t care about that. He preferred people to gold. He’d been poor. He’d been wealthy. He’d spent money on a whim and lived frugally. It meant nothing to him. He had been hurt, betrayed, ostracized, and even feared. He’d spent 500 years as a hermit. His money had done nothing to relieve the pain and loneliness. It wasn’t until he had found these people that were now his friends and family that he’d found happiness.
The baby had fallen asleep. Nim put him in a cradle near the bed. Jo lay down. She was getting tired. Nim started to sit in a nearby chair.
“Lay with me,” Jo requested. He obliged. He was tired too. Soon, all three were asleep.