Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1684432-Through-the-Portal
by Joyous
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #1684432
Olivia begins our story with a sacrifice.
Chapter 1

         Outside the Acid Lake was an inferno scorching the bloodied sky above while men scrambled either to tame the flames or escape to safety, but Olivia didn’t care. She lay in the center of her cramped tent panting into an enchanted rag stuffed between her teeth while listening to Mattea’s metronomic counting. To her, those quiet words held more fear and danger in them than whatever chaos the outside could bring. She studied the wooden beam supporting the ceiling above her and could almost see a giant silver bell hanging there ringing away and calling Kitchkor to her tent. So vivid was this image it seemed odd to her how quiet the room really was.

         Another contraction took hold of her and Olivia screamed into the rag, the sound absorbed completely once again. She felt Mattea shift from the front to her side, easing out her tired muscles as she went. The old wizard’s head came into view, mumbling empty words of comfort and Olivia felt her take her sweaty hand in hers. This one was stronger and seemed to last forever. Mattea wordlessly pushed back her damp brown hair away from her forehead as Olivia squirmed on the bed of bloodied sheets. The rag could stop all sound in the hopes that they may not be discovered, but Mattea could do nothing for the pain.

         “You have to know when to push.” She had said. “If I numb all the pain, it could cause complications with the birth.”

         “I can push now! The faster this baby comes the better in any case.” Came Olivia’s hot reply but Mattea was already shaking her head.

         “You have to wait until your cervix is fully dialated. Trying to push before that will only make it harder, not faster.”

         Olivia supposed she was right. A wizard’s study always began with the natural magics after all. But it didn’t make it any easier to bear. The fire on the lake would only last a few short precious hours before the heavy air suffocated it. Then the acid rain would come, and Olivia’s tent would be no protection against that. Then there was the chance that Kitchkor would send one of his minions to collect Olivia if he felt she were in danger. She didn’t want to think about what he would do if he discovered she had given birth to a healthy child.

         As the pain finally subsided, Mattea maneuvered her way back to the front of the tent, and inspected Olivia’s opening. A sudden cool touch made her jump, and Olivia felt a sudden flush of liquid. Fearing the worst, she craned her neck, trying to see past her rounded pregnancy to see what was going on. Mattea answered her with a smile.

         “Your water just broke. On the next contraction, I want you to push as hard as you can for as long as you can. Then I want you to inhale for three seconds and exhale for three seconds as you wait for the next one. You should feel a pressure build on your colon with each push. That’s the baby pushing through. Okay?”

         Olivia nodded and dropped her head once again and clamped the rag a bit further in her mouth in preparation. It was finally time.

         As the next contraction took hold, Olivia pushed, squeezing Mattea’s hand and grunting with the pain and effort. As Mattea had explained, she felt a pressure build along her butt and wondered if it weren’t just an abnormally large shit. Finally the contraction subsided and Olivia panted once more into the rag.

         “Breathe.” Mattea mimicked the breathing she wanted Olivia to maintain, and Olivia followed her lead. A few minutes later another contraction came, and the pattern continued, each time the pressure building more and more. Mattea hovered between Olivia’s side to provide comfort and between her legs to check on the baby’s progress. At the fifth contraction, Olivia could feel her cool hands again, stretching her opening a little better around the baby’s head. “One more push should free the head, Olivia. Bear with me.”

         Another excruciating push and Olivia heard her child’s first cries. Mattea continued to finger her, checking for the umbilical cord at the baby’s neck, and supporting it as Olivia freed it’s shoulders with another push. “One more, Olivia.” Mattea coached. “Just give me one more.” Exhausted, Olivia gave one more weakened push, and the baby was free. Mattea took one of the sheets from the pile Olivia was using for a bed, and toweled the baby off before placing it on her deflated stomach and covering it with a few more sheets. “Congratulations on your baby girl.”

         Olivia laughed and removed the rag from her mouth, relieved it was finally over, and stared in wonder at the baby in her arms. Sadness mixed with joy as she thought of what David would have looked like in this moment were he here. Thoughts of her husband brought darker thoughts still, and Olivia lost the urge to smile. Soon it would be time to complete her part of the plan.

         As though on queue, Mattea reached forward. Olivia instinctively clutched the baby closer to her.

         “Olivia….” Mattea left the point unsaid, but Olivia could no longer deny it. Nodding to Mattea, she gave up the baby and rolled to her feet. Mattea held the child in one arm and handed a hooded cloak that Olivia donned before taking back the child. Mattea wordlessly went to the entrance, opening the flap for the first time in the last ten hours.

         As she’d feared, the fire on the lake was almost fully spent. Smoke billowed skyward blocking any light that may have come from the setting sun. The men outside took little notice of her however as they hurried about putting order back in the camp. She didn’t have long. Picking her way across the open field, Olivia kept her hood up and the child within the folds of her cloak. The portal wasn’t far, writhing on its own small peninsula a little ways away from the center of the camp. Nothing was stored there in case it closed and took everything with it. Olivia hoped it stayed open just a little longer.

         Not daring to linger and appear suspicious, Olivia strode directly toward the portal as though she were ordered to go there. With the nature of the Acid Lake, no one would question a prisoner’s movements; there really wasn’t any clear path to go. The portal loomed in front of her now, occasionally showing brief glimpses of the other side. A street…a fence…trees… Tears streamed down Olivia’s face as she watched. She dropped her head as the baby began to stir in her arms. Big eyes peered at her, so like her own. Olivia hugged her close, her body racking with sobs. Shouts from behind her reminded her of where she was. Taking one last look at her child she moved closer still to the portal.

         “I’m sorry.” She whispered, and threw the baby in.

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