In Nilos, Healwomen have become only midwives. Their hodara lies in ruins on the bank of the Nilos River in the city of Memphos. Only a few women come for training and remain in the city. Others serve in the highlands and on the desert. The Eldest, she who rules the midwives, sets upon a scheme fo bring the Three to life and to rule the nome.
What will happen when the Eldest sets her plan into action? Will there be just three women or will they find their opposites becoming the fabled Three and Three? Who will rule the changes to come?
Labor began the next morning. She drank the tea to hasten the delivery. Her housemate attended her.
“A girl. The Eldest will be pleased. Last night I sent a bird warning her how close to delivery you were.”
Those words panicked Andia. Though she’d wished for a few days to recover from the birth, the Eldest could arrive even as early as tomorrow. As soon as she reached her sleeping chamber she placed her daughter in the cradle. She sat at the table and wrote a note.
Her name is Dianan. Protect her from the midwives.
Tonight when her housemate slept, she would leave. In a flask she mixed enough restorative for the trip. Overuse could bring death but hiding her child encouraged her to take the risk.
The older woman brought dinner on a tray. Andia ate every bite of the huge meal. She returned to the bed to feed Dianan and to rest.
Long after the sun set, she dressed and swaddled her daughter in the blanket she had knit. Carrying her daughter in a sling across her chest, Andia pocketed the restorative and left the house. She walked the hardened dirt of the road glad of the full moon to guide the way. Night sounds from the forest brought comfort. Finally she reached the forge.
As she had noticed the day before, heat radiated from the small building. Inside, shadows gathered. She leaned against the anvil and fed her daughter. She gave the infant several drops of a sleeping potion and held her close. Though difficult she knew what she must do.
“My daughter, I pray you will be safe here and reach your destiny. If I kept you, you would be controlled by a woman who yearns for what she hasn’t earned.” She placed her daughter on the table and stacked rolls of parchment around to keep the babe safe. She drank some of the restorative and strode into the night.
She trudged along the road, forcing herself to continue. Pre-dawn lightened the darkness of the night. Several times when her steps faltered she sipped from the flask. As the sun rose over the horizon she reached the edge of the village. She had begun to bleed heavily and she prayed the path would be obliterated before her destination was revealed. She tilted the flask and drained the remaining potion. When she reaches the house she staggered to her sleeping chamber knowing her goal had been accomplished.