“Here,” Fia offered the child to him, her arms shaking with the effort. “Hold her while I prepare myself.”
He pulled the babe to his chest and the child woke in his embrace. Her eyes opened wide and she giggled. Her body changed quickly, now showing fur from head to toe like any Quatcho babe.
They both sucked in a breath.
“A chameleon,” Fia said. “It is the prophecy.”
Settling her clothing around her, Fia gestured weakly for him to sit with her. He gently placed the child back in her arms—even though her arms now appeared to be insubstantial.
Fia kissed the fuzz of dark hair on the babe’s head and the babe change again to Mazikeen. “It will not be easy for you, little one,” she said. “We have been waiting for you for five millenia.” Fia’s eyes closed then and her breathing began to labor. “You must… take her now… to Bliant. The trees will have sung her birth around the world. The People will know and they will come searching.”
Nakani shook his head. “I will take her, but not yet. Not until …” He couldn’t finish the sentence. His tongue refused to form the words his heart closed off.
“What shall we name her?” he asked, putting off the end as long as possible.
“Her forest name is Wynbune, but her Agnoses name shall be Camryn. She will need it on the other side,” Fia whispered. “Tell Bliant her name is Camryn.”
Wynbune now rested on the lichen as Fia’s back and hips disappeared into the tree. Only the outlines of her legs and feet were visible in the lichen.
Nakani brushed his lips across hers once more, holding the sweetness of her kiss, pushing his breath into her to help her live one more minute.
“I have always loved you,” she sighed out the words. “It is done. Please, stand to the side. I would see the light one last time.”
He easily lifted the babe into one arm and stood to the side. Wynbune struggled and stretched her tiny hand toward her mother. His other hand clasped tight to Fia’s arm as she raised it to the sky calling the sun’s rays to end her life.
The dappled light streamed toward her, welcoming her back to be one with the forest. He watched her radiance until he could no longer distinguish any part of her body. He could see nothing except a pulsing glow against the life tree, spattered with the green lichen. Soon, a misty fog slid along the rays and he felt her arm and then her hand slip from him. The fog lifted and the light illuminated the bare ground with a new white trillium in Fia’s stead.
Nakani kneeled on the lichen below the tree, rocking the babe as he wept.
Wynbune let out a keening cry, and an owl swooped over Wynbune’s head and perched in the tree above them in broad daylight. Thunder Dragon song echoed through the forest. Wolves howled in the distance, and a lone unicorn pounded past them, its hooves stomping a wail as it disappeared in the fog. A low moan moved deep in the earth shaking the ground in sorrow.
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