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WolfSinger Publications

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Seventh Daughter
- Ronnie Seagren

Some  people are destined from birth to do great things. Gil Orlov is born in  the shadow of totality of a solar eclipse, the seventh daughter of a  seventh daughter. She is the culmination of a carefully planned  genealogy begun by her great-grandmother. Gil’s purpose, the goal of her  family—defeating a Vision of the world in flames, reduced to a lifeless  cinder. But the power she should have is muted or lacking. Gil and her  six sisters begin an arduous journey to a place of power high in the  Peruvian Andes known as Killichaka – the Bridge to the Moon. They must  make it to this ancient temple in time to complete a ritual during the  totality of the 1937 solar eclipse. If they are successful, Gil’s powers  should be restored—giving her the ability to prevent the global  disaster her ancestors warned of. To succeed they must first survive the  journey and locate Killichaka. Against them is the environment, the  elements, their own doubts and fears as well as the ‘Other’ and a force  that would gleefully see the world fall into chaos—an entity known as  Supay.


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June 8, 1918


“It’s a girl!”

Amani  blinked to focus on the infant raised before the open window as if in  offering. Beyond, sun embraced moon amid stars come out in the midday  sky, a wedding of light and dark. Cold dread seized her as she beheld  the ring of pale blue fire like a halo around her new daughter. She  reached for the infant, desperate to shelter her from the destiny  ordained by the Vision.

“A seven daughter, Amani! You’ve done it!”

Amani  released her breath slowly. The pain eased, but not the fear. This  house did not welcome her. Too many shadows prowling the edges, too many  whispers behind its walls. She did not belong here.

But  Denver was in the path of the eclipse, and home was not. So with her  sisters and oldest daughter, she had come. She had used herbs and  medicines and her own strength of will to delay labor, regardless of the  risk, and then held off the contractions until the eclipse had begun,  so that her daughter might be born in moon shadow, possessing the power  needed to fulfill the family’s mission.

“She’s  beautiful, Mama,” Petra said in hushed awe. Amani’s oldest daughter  stood beside her, her gaze fixed upon her newest sister.

Amani  offered a weak smile while her sisters busied themselves counting  fingers and toes and caressing dark, wet curls. She alone could  appreciate the mystical beauty of the eclipse, now that her part was  over. The gentle aura touched her like a blessing.

Vera, the youngest of her sisters, leaned over her and whispered, “You have your seventh now. Are you pleased?”

Amani  heard the envy beneath her sister’s words. If not for a stillborn  infant, Vera would’ve been the seventh. The honor would’ve been hers. If honor this could be called, she thought wryly. Vera wore her bitterness like a woolen cloak, heavy and scratchy, keeping herself within and alone.

Still  breathless, Amani answered back in short, broken phrases. “Be glad it  wasn’t you. I would not wish this ordeal on my worst enemy.” But what  Amani served as reconciliation, Vera tasted as bitter offense.

“So I am now your enemy,” Vera stated, her tone as twisted as her smile.

“You’re my sister and always will be.”

Vera  grimaced as if biting into bitter fruit. Once they had been close, and  no one loved Amani more, save that she was seventh and Vera was not. The  envy that fact had sown grew as each daughter was born—the seven that  might have been Vera’s—until the weight of her bitterness had crushed  the bond the two had shared.

Amani  turned from Vera to face again the preternatural twilight. Moonshadow  weighed heavy upon her, and she longed for the return of the sun and its  clean, pure light.

Quickly, before the other comes.  The thought came abruptly, so alien, she could not believe it her own.  Before she could ponder it, though, the pain of labor returned with  sudden and insistent ferocity. She tried to curl around it, to contain  and deny it. Young Petra stroked the sweaty hair from her face.

“It’s all right now, Mama. It’s over.”

Amani  shook her head. “No,” was all she could gasp as another contraction  possessed her. She let loose a cry as if the mere sound of her voice  could make the pain stop.

The  others came to her, once more murmuring encouragement and concern. She  looked past them to the window, to the dark hole of the eclipse.

As  she bore down, she sought to embrace that dark promise, to tumble into  the emptiness at its center and take refuge there. But her sisters held  her, gently pressing her back into the bedding, and the moon was too far  away.

Her  muted groan burst into a scream as she felt something tear. The second  baby slid free, slick with blood. In that instant, beads of brilliant  crimson broke out at the moon’s rim, corrupting the delicate aura. A  blaze of white fire heralded the sun as it emerged from the moon’s  custody. Amani collapsed back onto the pillows, drained of energy,  emptied of will, gasping for breath that would not come.

“Another girl!” someone cried out. “Twins!”

Amani shuddered.

“What do we do now?” another asked.

“There’s nothing in the legends about twins.”

“This changes everything. Our mission is corrupted.”

Amani  didn’t care who said what. It didn’t matter. She wanted only to sleep.  She drifted off listening to the strained, whispered argument as her  sisters cleaned up the room, the bed, and her own exhausted body.

~ * ~

When  Amani awoke, the curtains were drawn against the natural darkness of  night. She was alone except for the two infants—one in the cradle  prepared for her, the other in a drawer hastily emptied and lined with  blankets. She moved her hand across her abdomen, feeling its new  flatness, the emptiness within.

Someone  entered and slipped across the shadows to hover over the cradle and  makeshift bed. Amani struggled to sit up, and the figure turned, hugging  a white bundle close to her bosom.

“Vera?”  Amani asked in dazed concern. “What’s wrong?” The question echoed in  her mind like the pealing of funeral bells. She began to tremble.

“What is it, Vera? Is something wrong?”

“Shh. Go back to sleep.”

Amani listened to the whisper of silence beyond the door, laden with guilt and mourning.

“What’s wrong, Vera? Is it one of the babies?” Her heart lurched with fear. Please, let them live. I cannot do this again! She struggled to sit up, but her limbs felt as fluid as quicksilver.

“Your daughter is fine,” Vera insisted, but Amani would not believe her. Vera crossed the room.

“Rest,  Amani,” she said with her persimmon frown. “Your work, at least, is  finished.” She leaned forward to bestow a kiss on Amani’s forehead. The  bundle shifted, and Amani saw the face of her new daughter. Which one?

Without another word, Vera left.

Even  the distant, heavy closing of a door could not break the grim silence  that settled upon the birthing room. Amani wrestled free of the  bedclothes, then stood panting, clinging to the bedpost. Her skin itched  as blood ran down her thighs, and she pressed a hand against the sharp,  deep pain in her empty womb. She made her way to the bedroom door, then  the hall, and finally leaned heavily against the parlor doorway. Her  sisters, seated on sofa and chairs as if at a wake, kept their gazes  nailed to their laps. Only Petra dared to look up, and her face was  streaked with tears.

“What  have you done?” Amani cried out to them. “Oh, dear God, what have you  done?” she murmured as the walls circled around her and the floor rose  up to embrace her in darkness.

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