The Origin Of Mount Woe Chapter 9

Life And Death

By Nanaki

12,018 B.C.

"Crud, crud, crud." Vigo paced around the room, eyeing the workers. "Why aren't you guys done yet?! The extra bedroom is nowhere near complete, and this place is definitely not childproof!" He yelled, looking at an empty shelf, low to the floor, where someone had placed his Dreamstone dagger.

"What's with him?" One of the workers asked.

"He's about to be a new dad."

"Oh, that's right! The heir of Enhasa is expected today."

"This room should have been done yesterday!" Vigo ranted. Then he glanced outside. "Crud! Look how late it is! Zeal's probably in the maternity room already!" He turned around. "Its late. I have to go. Well, maybe I should supervise... No! I have to go!" He strode toward the door. "Can I trust you guys to finish while I'm gone?" The workers just waved him out the door.

"You know what this means?" The head worker asked.

"Two hour lunch?" Another said hopefully.

"You got it."

Vigo practically ran down the golden halls. Everyone knew better than to get in his way. He opened the doors to the medical section and rushed inside. Zeal was lying in bed, surrounded by medics. She was sweating, her hair sticking to the side of her head. Suddenly, she looked up.

"Well, its about time you got here!"

"There were, um, a few details." Vigo stammered.

"I'll give you details." She threatened, then gritted her teeth as another contraction overtook her. "You see Vigo..." she gasped, "this is... one of the... best reasons... for staying celibate!" Then she sank back onto the pillow.

"Its probably going to be a while yet." One of the medics leaned over to Vigo.

"Thats fine. I'm staying." He said adamantly.

"You sure are staying!" Zeal said emphatically. "After doing this to me, you have to stay and listen to me rant at you!" Vigo was worried, until he saw a slight smile form at the corners of her mouth. She was kidding him, at least for now.


Several hours later, it was a different scene. Vigo sat, wringing his hands, as the contractions grew stronger. "Vigo!... You are never... touching me... again!!"

Vigo leaned over and asked one of the medics about to come on duty, "They all say that at this point, right?" The medic answered him the only way a sensible man could.

"Okay," the head medic called. "I think its time to start pushing." Vigo jumped up and ran to the bedside. "We'll go in sets of ten, all right?" Zeal nodded, her eyes closed. "Okay, ready... 10! 9! 8!-" He didn't get any farther for the moment. The golden light in the room dimmed to a low brown.

"What in the-?" Vigo wondered. Everything was still for a moment. Then the golden light returned.

"That was a mean trick." Zeal complained.

"I assure you, none of us had anything to do with it." Vigo patted her arm.

"Some odd power fluctuation, no doubt." The head medic said. "Let's try again now. Ready? Now, 10! 9!" The light went out completely this time, until only three thin beams of sunlight lit the room.

"Wha?" Zeal gasped.

"8! Just ignore it if its gonna keep happening! 7! 6!" Suddenly, one of the assistants was surrounded by a purple glow and hurled across the room.

"I think we better stop." Vigo sighed. Zeal relaxed. The lights came back on.

"I don't want to stop!" Zeal cried. "I want this kid out!"

"Well I don't think it wants out." Nearly everyone in the room looked at him. "Look, isn't it a bit odd that the lights only go out when we start pushing? Isn't it especially odd that one of you was just hurled across the room?"

"Okay then." Zeal sighed. "This time, I won't stop for anything. Start the countdown again, and everyone brace for a rough ride!" They did, and the lights went out immediately. But it wasn't until Vigo felt a jolt under his feet that he became alarmed. He looked out the narrow window slits, and sure enough, they were moving down.

"Oh no." Vigo groaned.

"Now what?!" Zeal demanded, sinking back into the bed.

"This kid is drawing power from the Sun stone. A lot of power. I have to go stop it!"

"You can't just leave me here like this!" Zeal cried, a terrified look in her eyes.

It made Vigo glad to know that she needed him. "I won't leave you. I promise. You know I wouldn't miss this for the world!" Then, he snapped his fingers, and she froze in place.

"Huh?" The head medic exclaimed. "What did you do?"

"I merely suspended the temporal flow around her. Trouble is, it'll only last about fifteen minutes, so I better hurry. If she starts moving, don't hesitate to teleport me back here." With that, Vigo ran out of the room. He reflected on his temporal suspension. So far, neither he nor Maro had been able to make it last very long. Although, Gaspar was working on something..."

With a start, he realized he was at the "Sun keep" already. He then realized he was out of breath. He must have ran pretty fast. He gripped the Sun stone, noticing that it looked dimmer than usual, and cast every magical barrier he knew how. "There kid, let's see you break through that." Then he chuckled slightly to himself. "Who says dads don't help deliver the baby?" With that amusing observation, he turned and sprinted back the way he had come.

Some of the advisors tried to stop him in the hall. "No time. No time. No time." He dismissed each one. "No... hello!" He stopped short. Karak was standing in front of him. "What are you doing here? How did you get here?" He secretly hoped Karak had just come to congratulate him. But judging by the look on his face, it was something serious. Then he realized there was no way the earthbound people could have known.

"I set a large signal fire, and someone up here teleported me. But that's not important. What is important is the fact that we need your help."

"Then you have it of course, but I have to-"

"No Vigo. Now. We just had a huge earthquake down on the ground. Most of our caves collapsed. We lost a lot of people, and the survivors are out in the cold."

"That's awful! But it will have to wait just a few hours."

"It'll be dark in a few hours. Without magic, we're going to freeze! What could possibly be more important than peoples' lives?!"

Vigo thought about stopping for a moment. But he realized his time was nearly up. "Look, I really don't think its possible for me to leave right now."

Suddenly, he was interrupted by a panicked shout, "Where did he go?!" Vigo felt himself begin to teleport. But he knew that Karak would find him fairly soon, and they couldn't have an argument in Zeal's room. He forced himself to stay there.

Then, he realized what was more important than peoples' lives. A new life, one he had helped to create. "Make that, I know I can't leave right now."

"I was hoping it wouldn't come to this." Vigo heard the unmistakable sound of a sword being drawn. He suddenly wished he had brought his Dreamstone dagger with him. "But I came prepared. Now get your emergency relief force in gear!"

"Not now!" Vigo shouted. He tried to force his way past Karak. He found himself being propelled roughly backward into the wall. He quickly jumped up and tried to hit Karak in the face, and found himself slashed by the sword instead. He gripped his bleeding shoulder and backed away. In the distance, he thought he heard Zeal shouting again.

"Look Vigo, I'm sorry I had to do that, but-"

"Aaaaahh!!!" Vigo thrust his arms forward, and fire flew from his hands. Karak backed away, and a chunk of the ceiling suddenly fell, pinning him to the floor. Vigo then teleported him back to the ground. He ran back to the maternity room as fast as he could.

Vigo had expected a stern tongue lashing from Zeal, but she didn't seem angry. "Oh, thank goodness you're back!" She said, with only relief coloring her voice. Vigo thought she looked exhausted. The head medic noticed Vigo's bleeding shoulder.

"Your majesty! What happened to you anyway? We'd better attend to that shoulder!" He started signaling to his assistants.

"No time!" Vigo rushed forward. He leaned down to Zeal. "You've suffered more than enough today. Its time to end this." He signaled to the medic. "Start the countdown again." The medic obeyed, eyeing Vigo's shoulder. Vigo went back to wringing his hands, now oblivious to the blood flow.

This time, they got down to five before something happened. Nothing outside was noticeable, but Zeal cried out, suddenly in much greater pain than she had been. "Now what's happening?" She wailed. "Vigo, I thought you cut off this kid's power supply."

"I did." Vigo frowned. "But it absorbed an awful lot of the Sun stone's energy in the process."

"Its going to fry my insides if we try to force it out." Zeal wailed.

"In fact, either way, we're both going to die..."

"Don't even suggest such a thing!" Vigo commanded.

"Why not? Look at the facts. That kid is loaded with raw, explosive energy, and right now, I'm it's enemy." She paused, seeming to stare at nothing. "Vigo, I don't want to die."

"You're not going to die." He said in a steely voice. "Okay, listen up! Nobody is going to die! Not a single soul!" Vigo paused as he remembered Karak's news about the earthquake. Then he continued in a softer voice. "Zeal, I can't live without you. If you die, I die too. And right now, I have a very strong desire to live."

"So what are you going to do?" Zeal asked, a little calmer.

Vigo thought. "We can't force it out. That's obvious. We have to convince the kid to come out."

"......" Zeal opened her mouth, but no sound came out. "How are you going... to do that?" She finally questioned.

"I don't know, but I'm about to try." Vigo stepped up and put his hands on Zeal's belly. A soft purple glow seemed to radiate out from them. To the medics, he seemed to go into a deep trance, until several minutes later, he spoke. "She's extremely scared."

"She?" Zeal asked, a delighted look finally lighting up her face. "I mean, she told you this?"

"Not exactly." Vigo replied, his eyes still closed. "She doesn't communicate with words. Its just sort of a feeling. She doesn't know what we know. To her, it seems like she's dying, and she's very afraid."

Vigo said nothing else. The glow coming from his hands changed to a warm yellow. Vigo concentrated on thoughts of life and welcome, omitting all the odd events that had happened that day, including the things the infant herself had caused.

Everyone else in the room waited as the minutes ticked slowly, and painfully by for Zeal. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, but was probably about ten minutes, Vigo opened his eyes. He noticed the blood from his shoulder had mixed with Zeal's blood on the bed sheets. Something like that had to be symbolic of something. He turned around and staggered as dizziness overtook him for a second. How much blood had he lost? The medics began to rush forward again. He held out his hand, holding his spinning head at the same time. "In a minute. Right now... Now, it is time to start pushing."

"Vigo, are you sure?" Zeal looked up at him with a pleading expression on her face.

"I'm sure." Vigo smiled down at her. "Very sure." He kneeled by the bed and took her hand in his. The head medic stepped up to the bed again.

"Okay, we're ready to go again. Just prepare to be surprised." The medic started the countdown. Finally, nothing happened to stop it, though toward the end, Zeal began to wish something would.

"Vigo!" She gasped when finished with another set.

"Yes?" He asked, totally responsive.

"Let's not do this again, okay?"

"I don't think things will be quite this hectic next time." Seeing the look on her face when he mentioned "next time", Vigo just said, "We'll discuss it later."

"Okay people!" The head medic beckoned to his assistants. "I think this will be it. One more set Queen Zeal." She gritted her teeth, and pushed again. Finally, with two more counts to go, the cause of all the trouble entered the world. The medics rushed forward, cleaning up the infant.

"Wait!" Vigo shouted. "Don't bundle her arms up!" The medics looked up, startled. "Look at her hands." He pointed. The baby's arms were glowing an odd shade of purple. "Just a minute." Vigo walked over and picked her up, careful to support her neck. "Okay sweetheart. You've got to get rid of that energy." She obviously didn't understand. Frustrated, the infant began to cry.

Vigo put his head up to her still soft skull. Suddenly, the infant weakly raised her arms. The wall behind Zeal was leveled in a blinding flash of light. Sunlight filled the room. "Okay, now you can bundle her up."

Vigo sat down on the bed next to Zeal. Half of the medics rushed over and began working furiously on his shoulder. Soon, it was bandaged up, and the other medics brought the infant over to Zeal. "I don't recall ever hearing about a baby ever causing this much trouble." Zeal said, exhausted.

"She is... unique." Vigo paused. "So, what are we going to call her?" Zeal said nothing, she just looked at the infant. After a few minutes, the baby's eyelids fluttered open, and she babbled something incoherently. "What? What was that?"

"I just pulled your little telepathy trick. She has a definite sound for herself. It sounds like...Schala."

"Schala? That's kind of pretty." They looked at each other.

"Schala it is!" Zeal smiled. "Oh, she is beautiful, isn't she?" Vigo nodded, a large smile on his face. "Oh Vigo, I'm so tired."

"Then rest. I'm sure she'll still be here when you wake up."

A half hour later, Vigo sighed. The fading light cast gentle shadows across Zeal and Schala, who were both asleep. "You two have good night." He smiled. Then the smile vanished abruptly. "Because I'm probably going to have a very bad one." Vigo got up and silently walked out the door. He walked back to his chambers. He was surprised to find Maro waiting inside.

"Vigo! What are you doing back already? Is Zeal-"

Vigo dismissed the questions with a wave of his arm. "Zeal is fine, despite the efforts of our child. I would love to talk about this right now, but I'm afraid I have to leave."

"But... why? She's only just been born!"

"Yes... I know. But there was a large earthquake on the ground earlier today. The Earthbound ones need our help."

"But we didn't... No. Of course we wouldn't sense anything."

"I'm going to lead the relief forces. I just stopped in here to get my dagger. Tell everyone who stays behind to take the best possible care of Zeal that they can. I'm going to get Belthasar and the explorers, so we should be on our way within the hour." Maro nodded agreement.

A little over an hour later, Vigo found himself shivering, the shadow of Enhasa making the night sky even darker. Surveying the landscape, he saw many of the cave entrances had collapsed. The forty men behind him shook their heads sadly.

"So this is what's become of our former home, eh?" Belthasar sighed. The Earthbound ones came rushing up to Vigo's team, first eyeing them warily, then gladly accepting the help they provided.

As the rest of the team was busy erecting temporary shelters, Karak approached Vigo. "Man, what exactly happened up there today? What was your problem?!"

"I couldn't leave. Zeal had our baby today."

"Well, congratulations, I guess. But you could have left. It was an emergency! We needed you more than she did!"

"No. She would have died. Then I would have too..."

"What?! Why?!"

"I don't feel like explaining at the moment. Suffice to say, I couldn't do two things at once."

"Well, a lot of people did die down here."

"I'm sorry, but look, I just told you-"

Karak seemed to snap. "That is no damn excuse!!" He whipped his sword out of it's sheath and slashed upward in a precise arc. Vigo jumped back, drawing his dagger as he did so. Karak ran forward, but Vigo brought up his dagger to meet the sword. He was nearly knocked off his feet, but he managed to stay upright. Karak swung his sword down again in a huge slice which Vigo barely parried.

Suddenly, there was a bright flash, and Karak fell face first into the snow. Two of Vigo's men ran up. "Your Majesty! Are you all right?!"

Vigo just stared down at Karak. "Why did you do that?"

"Huh? He was trying to kill you!"

"I wanted it to be a fair fight. Now... Well, never mind. Continue with the work." Vigo stared silently out into the dark night. It would be a while before he could go home.


"Quick! Use the Red Knife!" - Nadia


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