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Rated: 18+ · Chapter · Fantasy · #2144877
A young healer tries to find a way to get a second chance to see his father.
I was born on one of the coldest days anyone had ever seen. The frigid snow smothered the normally lush countryside. Pillars of fire rose from the ground at our local sorcerer's command. The heat radiating from the fire warmed the cabin where my mother would soon give birth. It helped, but the house remained a tundra. My mother continuously gasped in pain as the healer we hired comforted her. She could hardly see beyond the wall of her frozen breath. She was in more pain than she could ever imagine, no doubt due to the cold. My father frantically called for more healers to stabilize his wife. None would come. Nobody could enter or leave thanks to the raging fire outside, and had we extinguished the flames, my mother might have froze to death.

It's not like we could afford another healer, anyway. We lived a simple life in a small cabin. The walls were barren, but we peppered the floors with whatever furniture we could find—hand-me-downs and second-hand artifacts, mostly—but we had what we needed. Well, we did until I came along. My father traded much of what we had to hire the sorcerer and the healer. He even gave them a necklace that had been in my mother's family for generations. I was expensive, if nothing else. I always wondered if I was worth the trouble. Nobody had ever seen my mother in such pain. Tears and sweat rolled down her agonized face. My father kept trying to encourage her, but he could barely watch. Just the thought of her in this much pain broke his heart.

Finally, I was ready to end this nightmare, but my mother wasn't ready for me. As she started pushing, she unleashed a piercing scream that shoved everyone back. The next thing she saw was an overpowering glow. The walls disappeared behind the white light. Perhaps due to shock, she stopped screaming. As I emerged, this light was the first thing I saw. When her sight returned, my mother rose to see the healer on her knees, panting and desperately trying to catch her breath. After a few seconds, the healer collapsed, dead.

My father turned to my mother and saw a face of absolute despair. She blamed herself for what happened. Nothing my father could say would console her, so he turned and picked me up. As he observed his new son, he noticed a white spot on the back of my neck. He didn't know what to make of it. I'm sure it had something to do with the healer who scarified herself so that my mother and I could live. It reminds me that I mustn’t take life for granted. It reminds my mother of what will forever haunt her.

Sarlet Moswar was the healer's name. She and her husband Istar used to explore uncharted lands with their crew. When Lord Raylon wanted to build a new settlement, he'd go to them. They and some others would find heavily forested land and clear it. Some of the trees they'd chop down for lumber. Others, they moved. Istar would spawn a fire shortly above the ground where the tree was rooted while the fighter dug a new home for the tree. Istar had to surgically burn the ground to avoid damaging the roots. He had to get right up to the ground, so he often singed himself. Sarlet stood behind him and constantly healed him. Once the tree was clear, they all lifted it into the crater the fighter dug. Their druid would then repair the singed land while the rest of them refilled the crater to seal the tree in place.

My father had to tell Istar what happened. He was so busy maintaining the fire pillars outside that he hadn't realized I was already born, let alone that his wife died. My father slowly walked outside, as if each step could be his last. We didn't know how Istar would react, or if he would even leave our cabin standing. The flames stopped as my father and Istar conversed. Istar practically sent the door flying off its hinges when he rushed inside. The second he saw Sarlet, he stopped. He hesitated to approach, but did so cautiously, as if she wouldn't really be dead so long as he kept his distance. He could do nothing but desperately try to convince himself that this was a cruel prank.

The cabin was silent, except for Istar's footsteps, each letting out an ominous thunderclap of grief. When he reached Sarlet, he knelt down, brushed her hair one last time, and said his final goodbye. He rose to his feet. His face belied his sadness, but his eyes beamed with pride. Istar was at peace. His wife gave her life for the greater good, and he couldn't have been prouder. We half-expected to be joining her in the afterlife as soon as he walked in the room. My father was relieved, but my mother was furious, interpreting Istar's inner peace as apathy. My mother snapped into a rabid fury. Had she not been weakened from labor, she would've charged him. She almost did, but my father stopped her.

I think my mother wanted Istar to blame her. In her mind, she murdered Sarlet and got away with it. She could never seek forgiveness, because nobody felt that she did anything wrong. She would always blame herself for what happened.

And I was a monument to her guilt.
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