The next three months, the O'Leary's prepared their caravan for the arrival of their new baby. Everything was child-proofed, a crib was bought for their extra room (which would no longer be a guest room) and when they found out they were having a girl, well of course they bought all of the best little girls clothes they could find. You've never seen anything with such sparkles and sequins! Their families too, brought clothing and toys for the baby girl – the clothing mostly handmade by Ewan's mother and sisters, and some of the toys made by Maria's family.
Maria was quite fond of the name Hannah, while Ewan wanted to name their daughter after his own mum, Lindsay. They both agreed to disagree, however, and decided to name her when she was born. They thought it would cause less fighting that way and they both figured it'd be an almost epiphany-esque moment upon seeing her, and the name would easy to pick.

In her eighth month of pregnancy, Maria fell terribly ill. It became incredibly hard for her to do pretty much anything, and the town where they had been settled just outside of for the entirety of Maria's pregnancy – the longest they'd been in one place for a very long time – began to feel stifling. The people looked at them funny, and folks had been showing less interest in what they were selling.
"We have to leave," said Ewan one day, sloshing his cup of coffee onto the small table in their kitchenette as he gesticulated emphatically. "The next town over isn't that far away, and we need to start making some money. Nothing is selling anymore."
Maria sighed, her hands on her belly. "I know. But I'm worried about the baby. She's not been kicking as much as usual. But... the midwife said she refuses to do anything more until we pay her."
"So then we'll head out tonight. Find a new midwife in the next town. They have a big hospital there too, if you need it." Ewan sighed. "It's time, love."
And so Ewan and Maria's group of Travelers – there were about six caravans and eighteen people in total – headed out that night, quietly packing away their stalls into the backs of their vehicles. There was no fuss. They were used to leaving; and for the most part many people felt relieved to be back on the road. Little did Maria and Ewan know that they were being watched.

Part Two –Morrigan–

I like to watch creatures – humans in particular these days; they fascinate me. They don't entertain me in the same manner as they do my dear brother, Man-Deh, or God, or Jehovah, or whatever he's being called these days. I enjoy giving them difficult choices, seeing what they desire most in life. I am constantly surprised by the selfishness and greed as opposed to most other creatures, besides of course some of the Faen races to which being selfish is very much to their benefit, as it helps them attract a mate.
There's simply something about the way humans make their choices that completely fascinates me, and I admit at times I probably seem like a cat playing with a mouse; cruel. But my race came to this planet long before the cat and the mouse ever existed. I have the right to toy with things; I am a Goddess.
Nothing can tie me down, nothing can hurt me. You see, I curse people here and there, always for fair reasons, always because of their foolish choices, but make no mistake; I am not a vigilante. It just entertains me. No, nothing can tie me down...except, I have this strange feeling that something will in the near future. It both excites and infuriates me.
Ah, fate my dear old friend; what do you have in store for me?
Caravans approach the clearing that my flock of crows has grown quite fond of over the past couple of days, and my essence buzzes from the feeling of opportunity that they bring with them. A woman is with child within one of the vehicles, a selfish woman with a heart that has only just begun to thaw. I can feel it in my bones.
And the child. This precious babe is to be...something, yes. She has been here before. Oh, and a second chance? Man-Deh doesn't often grant those. How strange and delightful! Yes this child is special.
Quickly, I transform into a crow – my favourite of the tricksters – and lead my murder closer to the caravans, which have all parked in the clearing.
The pregnant woman is screaming. Her husband is sobbing. People are beginning to vacate their own caravans and are making their way to where the spectacle is taking place.
Something is wrong. I quickly change shapes, midair, and land on my feet, looking more or less human. Pushing my way through the crowd that barely even notices me I calmly knock on the door, stating that somebody called a midwife. I am instantly let in.
"My name is Morgan," I say. "I am here to help."
"Ewan," the husband says, shaking my hand hastily. "My wife, she's bleeding to death. You need to get the baby out or they'll both die."
"Which would you prefer?" I ask calmly. "The wife or the child?"
He instantly replies, "Both," and I know that this man lying, but it is a valiant effort none the less. He loves his wife more than anything. Ewan could never be a father.
"Maria," he's cooing to her, "everything'll be okay now. You'll see, everything'll be right as rain. The midwife is here."
Maria simply screams, helplessly trying to push the baby out.
Ewan is in such a state that he doesn't notice the magic I use to stop the bleeding as I reach inside of Maria and pull the baby girl out. He doesn't notice that his child is turning the colour of the sky, a grey-blue, and he doesn't feel the power emanating off of her.
The purest soul. She returns. And she is dying.
It's a split second decision that I make when I turn to Ewan, who is now holding his wife's hand, stroking her head and murmuring things to her, and I uncharacteristically yell, "Your child is dying and yet you do not care? Can't you see?"
Maria and Ewan both turn to me then, alarm in their eyes.
"Let me see her," says Maria at the same time as Ewan says, "That thing nearly killed my wife."
Reluctantly, I hand over the little girl to her mother, cringing as my skin turns icy cold the second she leaves my arms – she is extremely feverish.
"My baby," whispers Maria. "This is my fault. I shouldn't have acted so stupid in the beginning of the pregnancy. I've killed you. I'm so sorry."
Ewan seems to snap out of his anger towards the child and says, "It's probably better off this way, Maria. We couldn't be parents; I mean look at us." He is crying, though. I can feel that they are both upset.
"She is not dead yet," I say, letting my power seep into my words, so they can feel it. Perhaps they will choose wisely. Perhaps...
"I can offer you a deal. Give me the child, and I can make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. I know that you need money; I know how hard this lifestyle is on you. I can make you immortal with the flick of my wrist," to demonstrate my power, I quickly change forms into a crow, and then back into my human skin. They both gasp in a mix of horror and fascination. Humans are most always the same in their reactions to my kind.
"Are you Satan?" asks Maria, making me laugh.
"Oh goodness, no. I am Morrigan."
"The War Goddess," whispers Ewan, incredulously. "But you're a myth."
I smile. "And so is the God you believe in. We are all myths to you until you meet us."
"What do you want?" yells Ewan. "You can't have our baby girl!"
"You never truly wanted her in the first place!" I'm actually angry. "What has changed? I could make you rich and full of longevity! All you have to do is give me the child."
Maria looks down at her baby and her face crumples. "She's stopped breathing!"
"I'll dispose of her," I say, hoping they'll continue to refuse but knowing that they won't. "And you'll get everything you could ever want. You can have more children in future – healthier children. All you have to do is –"
"Take her," Maria whispers. "I don't want to be burdened with a sick child, if she even lives. If you can really do what you said you could, please, just take her."
Ewan looks like he's about to argue for a fraction of a second, but then changes his mind. He nods, comfortable with his decision. "Aye," he says solemnly. "Take the baby, if you can truly make us immortal and rich. We can have more. We'll have all of the time and money in the world."
He stretches his hand out to me for a handshake, and as I grasp his hand and look deeply into his eyes, and then Maria's, the curse is born.
"Foolish humans," my voice is loud, but the stink of their fear is more overpowering. "Never make a deal with a trickster."
"Let go of me!" shouts Ewan and his voice makes him sound like he's being stung by a thousand bees, raw and terrified. This annoys me. So I simply freeze both him and Maria so they cannot move their limbs.
This way they can't follow me.
"You will not get your riches, but you will have your longevity!" I let go of Ewan's hand, and calmly take the baby girl from her mother's frozen arms. "And as for the child, well, she is special, and as such your foolish choices will affect her for the rest of her life as they already have in her birth. She will not be assigned a Guardian or soul mate."
The two imbeciles gasp, as if they have any idea what that means for her.
"I take it back! We want her!" shouts Maria, as I walk towards the caravan door.
I look upon the pathetic couple one last time. "You can't do that, I'm afraid. You will be able to move once I am gone from the area. Oh," I pause, "and you will need to explain what has transpired to your family, as they will be able to move just as I walk out the door."
I open the door just as it gives, their family having put enough pressure on the door to get it open, and walk right past them, myself and the baby invisible.
I gently kiss the girl's head, which is covered in soft, dark hair. "Little Dark One," I murmur, "you have people on your side. I suspect Camael has been alerted to your presence, wherever in the world he may be."
It is common knowledge that Archangel Camael Fell from Heaven for this girl's prior incarnation.
I make my way to the nearest village, ready to drop the girl off at the Hospital, when I sense a fight going on in one of the nearby homes.
Two seers, no less! Perfect. There are no two better people that these fine specimens.
Fate, you really have been quite strange today! I applaud you.
I kiss the girl's head one last time, and in a strange way...I love her, and I cannot truly abandon her. Nothing can tie me down it would seem, but a cursed, sickly baby. A child with the power to change everything for the Fallen. The child of Prophesy.
How interesting.
I place her gently on the doorstep, wrap her in a cloak of my own making, and wait. These people will take good care of her. I can feel their grief; they've recently lost a child of their own.
"Your name is Khiara," I whisper. "And you will have to choose, when the day comes, between your own wants and the needs of many. Death is inevitable, you poor, sweet child. But while you are not assigned a soul mate or a Guardian you can choose you own...and you can be chosen. I am giving you this gift to you, the purest of souls; a gift my brother could not have ever thought to give. Live, child."
Khiara's little chest begins to move up and down in a steady fashion as her breathing becomes less laboured.
"There we go," I say, just as the door opens roughly, and a man named Jaques becomes a father.
His kind face peers down at the baby and softens, his eyes crinkling in the corners. "Miranda!" he calls to his wife.

And so it begins.

Foolish Choices - Book 0.5 pt.2 of The Khiara Banning SeriesWhere stories live. Discover now