Why won’t the waters break?
The midwife of Donghai pressed her hand more firmly upon the Fox Queen’s protruding belly and attempted once more to rupture the amniotic sac with her magic. It was no use. Her powers were being thwarted somehow…
In the full throes of labour, the Queen lay upon the bed naked from the waist down, her bent legs shaking violently under the sheet draped over her knees from the contractions coming on in rapid succession. An anxious Fox King clutched his wife’s trembling hand.
The Queen’s breath choked in a strangled gasp as another excruciating bolt of pain wracked her sweat-soaked body.
When both mother and child’s heartbeats started weakening, the midwife thrust her hand into the Queen’s passage and used her own finger to pierce the sac. Foul-smelling, black fluid came gushing out from between the Queen’s legs. The midwife jumped back with a hiss, shaking the gunk from her hand. Then old eyes narrowed shrewdly as she studied the liquid pooling on the bed.
“What happened?!” the Fox King demanded. From where he sat at the side of the bed, he could not see the black fluid. “What is that foul stench?!”
The midwife’s hard gaze met the Fox Queen’s red-rimmed, swollen one. There was an anguished, silent plea in the vixen’s eyes.
“…something… is wrong with the amniotic fluid. The baby’s heart is failing as is the mother’s,” the midwife said in a chilly whisper.
The midwife fixed the Fox Queen with a level stare. “The fluid is poison. If I don’t purge the womb completely, right now, you’ll die.”
“N…no. My… my baby…”
The midwife looked to the Fox King. “I cannot save them both. If the womb stays as is, the mother will die. If I purge the womb, the baby will die.”
“N…n..no… save…my baby!”
His wife’s hand was becoming colder in his grasp. Bai Zhi could feel her life energy beginning to ebb.
For tens of thousands of years, they’d tried to have children but to no avail. As every heat had come and gone, the Fox Queen did not conceive. She had so desperately wanted to have a baby for so long. But the Fox King, though saddened, had come to accept it as fate that they would have no children. So when Ying Yue suddenly and surprisingly became pregnant three years before, they’d been beyond overjoyed and had done everything to make sure the pregnancy went well. Bai Zhi had made sure his wife ate properly, rested, and took care of herself with his help.
He loved his mate more than life itself.
A grim Fox King closed his eyes.
“Zhi Zhi… no…”
“Purge the womb,” he ordered the midwife in a dead voice.
What happened next would forever haunt the midwife till the end of her days.
With both she and the Fox King distracted, neither reacted fast enough. In a burst of desperate strength, the Fox Queen grabbed her husband’s dragon scale dagger from the sheath on his belt and in one swift motion plunged it into her heart, forcing the decision. For wounds inflicted by dragon scale could not be healed without high magic.
“NOOO!!!! YING YUE!!!!”
“Take care of our child,” she whispered as the death convulsions overtook her.
The Fox King pulled the dagger out from her chest, futilely trying to staunch the flow of blood with his hands and power.
Plunging both hands between the Queen’s legs, the midwife clasped the crowning head. Her magic worked unhindered now and she easily withdrew the baby, clearing out its nose and throat in the next instant. When the newborn took a breath, the midwife swiftly cleansed all the putrid fluid from the child’s skin and the bedding as well with another wave of her magic.
“Ying Yue… no…” The Fox King’s blood-soaked hands cupped his now dead wife’s face.
The midwife swaddled the newborn who’d healthily begun to squirm and cry. When the baby’s eyelids opened, the midwife paused at the tiny face then looked away.
The final rays of daylight were receding from the Fox Den when the exhausted and resigned midwife placed the bundled infant into the Fox King’s arms. Her voice hollow, she forced herself to utter the traditional words.
“Congratulations, Your Highness, on the birth of your daughter.”
The devastated Fox King broke down in sobs.
映月 Ying Yue, reflection of the moon
⇛ Next part: 1(第一章) The Mushroom Market