Hello there! So lately I have had a new story brewing, and while it has taken a while I am finally starting to spill it out. This one is really exciting for me and has been an absolute blast to write.
To give you a bit of insight as to where this story will take you, we start with the very first ships to come to the Americas, and as we go on, we will follow our protagonist through the ages of time, the birth of a nation and on.
I do hope you enjoy it.
The working title right now is The Girl From 999
June 17, 999 AD
Vadoma’s hand stroked loving circles around her mountain of a belly before she was even fully awake, not that she’d been fully asleep. Sleep had evaded her more often than not. A knot of excitement must have been nestled against her tiny child inside her, and that knot had grown with her baby. That night though, she’d gone to sleep smelling magic on the air. Her baby was coming, she could feel it.
The crickets were going to sleep, a few birds were up before the dawn, chirping happily about their moonlit breakfast. Vedoma often woke at this time. It was always the most peaceful moment of the day. Her only real moment of rest and ease, breathing in the cool air as she listened to the night fall asleep.
A kick from inside her belly against her ribs said good morning. Her babe was an early riser, too. Fingers tickling against her belly, she felt the little foot from the outside in. She’d never imagined carrying a baby would have been so magical. Vedoma’d had a blessed and easy pregnancy. Truly, she’d been blessed by the three crones of the wood. Today, Vedoma and her mother would travel through the wood to their cave to deliver her baby.
The tiny foot kicked against Bao’s back hard enough to kick a snore loose of him. Vedoma and her lover slept upon a bed of leather hides piled over winter furs in a shallow cave; a large rock ledge protecting a beautiful inlet to the mountain. It was the coldest place on her family’s land. With Vedoma in her final months of pregnancy, she’d been too hot to stay in their homestead. Her lover Bao had been eager to see to her comfort and set to work to make the mouth of the mountain as comfortable and safe as possible. He’d formed a safer path so that she wouldn’t have to climb to reach what had always been her favorite place. There was no better place to see the moon or to watch the stars.
Their land backed up to a picturesque mountain range, surrounding their ravine and providing the perfect homestead. Hunting was plentiful in the mountains, as was foraging. The earth was so rich, everything they planted grew under the care of their family’s hand. It was all in great thanks to her mother. Alihana knew plants like no one else. She spoke to them, and they seemed to speak back. It made sense to Vedoma and her family, for that’s just how it always was. Alihana taught her daughter well, though Vedoma never did learn to speak to the plants so she sang to them instead. Her mother insisted they liked it very much and thrived to hear Vedoma’s song. As her mind wandered, thinking not just of her baby but of her family and the lives they’d built in this wild land.
They’d traveled by boat, a fleet of Viking folk mostly, and several nomads. Vedoma had been a young girl, only about eleven at the time. Her brother Kristo barely nine. The first three years had been the hardest. Carrying everything they owned on their backs, they’d parted ways from the others and made their way inland. Fear of a wild land and the unknown natives kept their small family moving. It did no good to ask where they were going, for they had no way of knowing in this wild place. Her mother said she would know when they had arrived. It was the only answer Vedoma received when she asked how long before they would settle. This land frightened her. There were natives that kept their distance but often watched. Vedoma often felt eyes on them as they made their way, her father Zechariah leading the way with a giant blade for brush. Kristo, determined to be brave and strong as their father, followed with a much smaller blade for wacking at shrubs as he trailed along behind them. There were animals and creatures of all kinds around them, day and night. The night was the most frightening. She’d never heard dogs like these before. Sometimes it sounded like something screaming, but it was the dogs. Wolves were often quiet, and could only be heard howling. These dogs would yip and bay as they hunted and tracked. They were loud, sometimes so close it hurt their ears. Those nights their father wouldn’t sleep but would keep watch to keep them safe. It was three months before they’d woven their way around into a valley that faced a mountain range so large Vedoma felt her heart sank at the idea of trekking further with all their supplies. They’d lost a great deal during the time it had taken to get here. The land that were to be their salvation would come with a price. Feeling she might cry, she hardened herself, gritting her teeth to not let her family see her weaken. Kristo’s eyes grew big, looking up to Vedoma for comfort and finding only his same fears. Before either child could speak, her mother cried out, quickly throwing down her pack, her arms flew up into the air as she spun happily through the lush field. “Here!” Alihana cried. “We’re here!” The children collapsed, shedding their loads and rolling themselves on the ground overjoyed at the sheer relief. The hard work to come next was a labor of love and joy. While perhaps her mother and father would disagree, Vedoma recalled no grievances or arguments even with young Kristo through the months that followed, building their home, plowing the land by hand for gardening. Before winter, their father had killed a bore, only to find its piglets had then been left without a mother. Their homestead then had hogs to raise. The land provided to them in countless ways, as if its mission were to provide for them. Vedoma had not been blind to this magic nor ungrateful, so she set to learning her mother’s ways to give back to the land and care for it well.
As she lay, watching the sky lighten slowly, one hand pet her belly, the other tangling into Bao’s silky black hair. She hoped their child would have hair as beautiful as his. Bao was native to these lands, he’d been sent to track and keep watch of these strangers when the fleet had arrived. Being just a boy himself, Bao had been warned to keep his distance at all costs, not to intervene or interact unless they sought to harm him.
Their home was nearly finished. Hard work was their life since settling in this place, from sun up to sundown there was work to be done. Building their home, she hoped soon they’d have a roof. They’d had to stop work on their shelter to build a pin for the hogs. It seemed like the more Vedoma wanted their home finished, the more life would interrupt and slow down their progress. Their father Zechariah had been hurt, a shaft of wood had pierced his arm. It would heal, but the hard work fell on Kristo and Vedoma as their mother tended to the chores that kept them all alive and well. Kristo was creating thatch bundles when their mother called to Vedoma. She needed elderberries that only grew in the forest here. Alihana was making salves and medicines for Zechariah, and anything else the coming months could surprise them with. She liked to be prepared and wanted to stock up before the change of seasons. It was a happy change of pace to take on the task of foraging. Before she’d made it out the door her mother had a list of herbs and berries for her daughter to gather and bring back. Vedoma was so eager to be off to the wood, she paid little mind to anything other than casually looking for the elderberries and lamb’s quarter her mother so coveted. Wild mushrooms would also be a nice change, she thought as a reason to travel further into the wood up the mountainside. Fall was coming. She’d seen snakes plenty in the valley, mostly green or black. She’d put out of her mind the dangers they’d learned about on their journey to the valley, the beasts so small one might not notice them at all. Not quite intentionally, Vedoma lost track of time, traveling further and further up the mountain. The wild edibles were better up here. She already had half a bundle. The weather was so nice, it was good to take her time and look for the best of what there was to find. She’d never seen a copperhead up close, though their father had killed several snakes of all kinds. She’d not noticed it nestled in the leaves as she carelessly pushed brush aside with her free hand to look for the wrinkly mushrooms that only grew in the wet seasons. She’d gone so far from home that her family never heard her scream. Her bundle fell as she clutched her hand, stumbling back and tripping over the underbrush she tumbled down a steep slope only coming to a stop for a fallen tree her small body crashed against. Hitting her head caused her to lose focus, only staying conscious for the pain screaming in her hand. Bao ran like a young deer, fleeting through the brush towards where he’d heard the cries. He’d been hunting squirrels when he heard her. He couldn’t explain why he hadn’t already returned to his people, to tell his father about these strangers and the amazing mountains he’d never before seen. It hadn’t been easy, being so alone these months, watching this family from afar, while so far from his own. He’d never gotten close before, not really, his father had forbade it for the risks were too great. This warning was lost on him the moment he’d heard the girl cry out. Tears and a little blood stained her cheeks. She was hardly conscious when Bao came to a sudden halt at her side. Scooping her up, he ran with her as if she weighed nothing. His campsite was so small, all to make of it was a small coal and ash firepit remnant of his hunt from the day prior. It was further up the mountain, but this was closer than her family. Her hand was swollen and turning purple already, a lump on her forehead seeped blood where she lay. Bao used ash from the fire on her forehead to stop the bleeding before tending to her hand. He’d seen many snake bites, and other bites from creatures even smaller and deadlier than that. To be a man, you had to know how to take care of these things if you were going to survive the wild. At age fifteen, Bao thought himself a man because he was exceptionally good at surviving. Soon, night would fall. Fortunately for them both, Vedoma was unconscious while Bao tended to the snake bite. Her family would be growing worried by now and could come looking for her. Should they be found together out here they would surely think the worst of him, and could even try to kill Bao. Watching her lie there, sick with pain from the venom, he couldn’t leave her alone either. So be it, he thought trying to be brave, I’ll stay with her until my death should it keep her safe. While changing her poultice, he woke. She wasn’t afraid to see him. Relief swept over Vedoma as her eyes rest on this boy, or was he a man? Almost a man, she thought. He froze, unsure how she’d respond to him. All she did was look at him. It was a moment to realize that’s all she could do. Slowly, cautiously, he reached out and touched her forehead. She had no fever, nor was she cold, a concern as sweat soaked her brow. Considering what he should do, Bao touched his chest then pointing down the mountainside towards the valley. He’d go get her family. A slight inclination of acknowledgment made her tired. Patting her cheek sharply her eyes shot back open. “No,” Bao said firmly. He knew little English, but she seemed to understand as her eyes widened to refocus on the world. She needed to stay awake. Bao ran as fast as he’d ever ran in his life that day, flitting through the trees like a mountain lion on the run. He ran so fast he couldn’t slow down after he broke through the trees. Zechariah was outside with Kristo, clearly getting ready to head into the wood to look for Vedoma. Startled, Zechariah drew his knife turning to face Bao aggressively before realizing he was looking at a mere boy. Bao skidded to a stop with his hands up as if to plea with him. “Ageyutsa. Ageyutsa!” Bao sneered, frustrated that this man couldn’t understand his language. Bao’s hands grew frantic, not knowing how to express what he meant about the girl. Alihana ran up from behind Zechariah and Kristo “He knows where Vedoma is!” she stayed her husband’s hand which brandished the knife. Excitedly Bao pointed to Alihana, recognizing the name they called the girl. “Ve-domah-Ageyutsa!” Bao, tried out the word they called the daughter, pairing it to his own language.
She wondered if she’d have ever met Bao had she not been bitten by that snake. Would he have returned home soon, convinced they were no threat to anyone. Had he not been there in the woods then, Vedoma surely would have died that day.
Bao did return home not long after that fated day. He knew for certain the pale strangers he’d been tasked with watching were no threat to anyone, certainly not his people. It was time to complete his mission, and return to his people with what he had learned. Illness had taken many of his people. One, or even more, of the fleet that had brought her family also brought diseases the natives had never encountered before. What little was left of his tribe had been forced to move on. The rest had been burned. With nowhere else to go and little thought to be had about the decision, he returned to the northern mountains.
It was hard to believe that was now more than five years ago. Another kick against Bao’s back was enough to wake him. Rolling over, he leaned down to kiss her swollen belly before leaning back up to greet her lips. “My mahela,” he cooed into her neck as he stretched awake. Mahela being the honored name for a woman with child in his native tongue.
Bao could see the look in her eye as if knowing a great secret. “What is it?” She smiled. “Today. She’ll come today,” Vedoma whispered. ‘You’re sure?” Bao nearly lept to his feet as if to get ready right this moment, but for what he wasn’t so sure of. She laughed as she watched him.
“Yes, I’m certain.” Her hand rubbed circles over her belly idly.
Kneeling down to her, their hands joined. “Tell me what you need.”
Vedoma and her mother had been preparing for this day for many months. Special herbs had been grown by her mother’s gifted hands and blessed in drying rituals usually reserved for shamans and spirit walkers. Even Kristo had been recruited to help dip candles. Candles had been made with blends of flower petals, set out every night to soak up the energy of the moon, her mother explained. They were to light the path for her child, to guide her safely into this world. Of course with herbs comes tea, and there was much tea to be had. Tea was important for her health, her mother insisted.
While it came from a place of love, her mother was strict about how Vedoma cared for herself during her pregnancy. Alihana had become a midwife in their homeland, for all she knew about medicine and plants. She was a medicine woman more than a midwife, Alihana had been caring for people all her life until they’d arrived in this new place. So naturally, her family took the brunt of all that extra care Alihana had to give.
“Lay with me a little longer?” Easing down beside her, Bao’s arms snaked under and around Vedoma, pulling her to him. “I will lay with you for eternity” he exhaled contently against her soft hair.
As the sun rose, brilliant golden light shot beams through clouds of lavender and hibiscus pink, painting the valley that cascaded out below. It was a phenomenal moment, so powerful. As if the heavens knew that such a day deserved nothing less. So powerful was this Summer Solstice day, that it would bring with it a dazzling rain of shooting stars as night fell upon them.
To ease her through the labor pains, Bao would help her count the stars, something they had done often for Vedoma was in love with the sky. With the moon high and bright, kismet kissed this most miraculous day with the birth of a child in the mid of the night. Her name would be Catori.
That is our origin! To have some fun I have some fun pictures to share that helped inspire our origin.