Trying Times

Originally published on Guild Wars Vault on 2007-09-28

Trying Times

Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.
– William James


During her time at the Temple of the Ages, Lavian brought much to the church of Dwayna. She taught them alchemy, tended the sick and offered guidance to those in need. She worked herself tired and always put others before herself. It was no surprise that she was asked to bear more responsibility in the church. This was what she had been waiting for—the chance to let her actions speak for her soul and to show Dwayna how strong her faith really was. But would she pass the test?

Mere days after being asked to take on more responsibilities, Lavian came heavy into labor. In her small cottage with a midwife caring for her, Lavian began to dream. The pain of the labor was unbearable, but her dreams saw her through. In her dream she saw a woman dressed in a long, flowing, blue silk gown. An ambient, soft green light glowed all around. Before this woman stood a small child who looked up at her and smiled. The woman kneeled and kissed the boy on the cheek before fading away into the light. As the light from the dream faded, Lavian could see the midwife in front of her. The pain was gone and the woman held a child swaddled in cotton cloth.

Lavian cried tears of joy, but her joy soon turned to distress. Looking down upon her child she saw a peculiar birthmark on his cheek. As she drew him closer she saw that it was not a birthmark, but a scratched scar. Lavian shot the midwife a cold stare. “What have you done to my child? Why is his face scratched so?” The woman responded defensively, “It is a birthmark, Priestess. The child was born that way.”

Her fears were strengthened then—it could be nothing else.

Once every few years a child is born with a scar across its face. The scar is no simple mark of birth; it is a sign of something more sinister. Children of Grenth, they are called. These children are born touched by the God of Death and grow to serve him in the mortal realms. Lavian had heard the stories, but never believed them until this moment. Her life would be forever changed.

How could she, a Priestess of Dwayna, have given birth to such an abomination? It was her duty as a Priestess to destroy the child, but how could she murder her own child? Lavian’s mind began to race, making plans for what to do next. She couldn’t stay in the Temple, for the church would demand she give up the child, but staying there would protect them from the followers of Grenth who would certainly come to claim him. She had worked so hard to prove herself to the Goddess of Light. Had she failed her patron? Was this a test?

Not knowing what else to do, Lavian dismissed her midwife, gathered what clothing and food she could, and left the Temple. The church would most certainly take the child away from her, but at least she had a chance to keep him if she left. Grenth would send his followers after them, but it was a risk she had to take. Tired and delirious from labor, Lavian fought to stay awake. She made her way out of town with her son, who remained remarkably quiet, and followed the road westward as far as her feet would carry her. Sometime shortly thereafter, once the town was out of sight, Lavian collapsed on the ground exhausted.

When she awoke, she found herself in a small village. She lay on a straw mat and her newborn child lay not far from her in a bundle of cloth. She was in a tiny hut with a thatched roof. The door was simply burlap hung from a wooden pole and through it walked a young man. He wore leathers and animal hides and smelled of smoke from the fire that burned outside the hut.

“Oh good, you’re awake.” He spoke, “Elder Rabne will be pleased to hear that. Do have something to eat. There is bread, an apple, a bit of ham and some water there for you. I can fetch you some wine if you would like.”

“Thank you,” Lavian responded, and she got up, famished, to eat her first meal in what felt like days. As the man exited the hut, a little girl with red hair tied up in pigtails entered and looked over at the baby. She appeared to be no more than four years old. “He’s cute,” she said. “What’s his name?” Lavian took a drink of water to wash down the bread before she spoke.

“His name is Belzan.” She said finally. “Bel-Zan” the girl repeated. “That’s a funny name. What does it mean?” “Well,” Lavian began, “it doesn’t have a specific meaning, but the name means a lot to me. He is named after his grandparents. He is a very special boy.” The child stood by Belzan and tickled his little feet. Belzan began to laugh and the child returned in kind. “I am Zue, Zue Vanderveer. I should probably go though; mom says I have to take care of the pigs. It was nice meeting you.” The little girl bowed to Lavian and skittered out of the hut before she could even respond.

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