It took twelve whole months for the child of Roj the Fit and Iri to show itself. Twelve months of waiting. Twelve months of worry. Twelve months of anticipation. Of the full sentence, three of the months had been full of absolute discomfort for Iri. She is a strong, fair haired, sun-kissed wise woman. Despite her clear strength proven in speech, the child had grown large inside of her stomach and the torment of pregnancy had proven fairly equal in strength. She had been pregnant before, however the child had never been this active, or survived their residence in their mother.
Iri had gone through a gauntlet of pain and suffering throughout her 40 winters of life, however the pain of carrying her child had been one... unrivaled. For a year, she had tossed and turned at night, going untouched by her husband in their fur sleeping cot. The black clay and tan wood adobe had grown tense since the initial six months of her unexpected pregnancy, and most knew of this intensity.
The expected parents were born into and continue to live in a tribe of nearly two hundred men and women in the Northern piece of the Western Hemisphere. The two are not very prominent in their community, with Roj the Fit being a skilled hunter, yet cowardly fighter and Iri mainly keeping to herself, despite being the only wise woman that the tribe had left. While the tribespeople look to her for guidance in every facet of their meager yet honest lives, she looks to the innocent nature surrounding her for each answer she conjures through its inspiration and influence.
The unnamed child of the two tribal commoners had arrived at twelve full pounds, each being well accounted for. Upon the break of her water, Iri had been rushed to the nearest community religious gathering place and given the warmest and richest of the buffalo hides to comfort her childbirth, as the night provided no warmth at a subzero temperature. The preparation for the newest tenant of the Tekalow tribe involved countless blankets, a bucket of blessed water from the running river, and miniature fur robes to fit the newborn snug. Despite Roj and Iri being fairly insignificant tribespeople, the birth of a new Tekalow is quite the event.
As the shaman speaks to Iri, she screams for beds to deliver the baby. With all of the preparation provided for the birth, the accumulative women that commonly deliver babies for the tribe have forgotten to seek out a bed first. They suggest resting on the floor of the small community gather hall, however Iri refuses the rough feeling of the old sheepskin rugs covering the cold grass, therefore she reaches for Roj the Fit and the expectant parents journey outdoors, homebound, to deliver their baby. Iri passionately trots outside into the freezing, aggressive snowstorm. Her passion however blinds her, as she exits disregarding clothes to warm her.
Twelve steps. Iri goes twelve steps until the gods force her to her knees, then back, and her child calls for her. She lands in the middle of the tribe and opens her legs to welcome her spawn into the world. The people of the independent tribe watch from the inside, afraid to fall to sickness from the cold, however Roj the Fit crouches down right aside his lover, to welcome their child… together… alone.
Iri screams in pain for merely twelve minutes before what she discovers to be her firstborn son, finally arrives. As Roj lifts his son into the sky and uses a skinner’s knife to cut the umbilical cord, the blizzard calms into a daintily pleasant snowfall. The crystal-like snow dances down from the sky, to land and nest daintily on Roj and Iri’s eyebrows and eyelashes. Roj, noticing the weather shift, looks up, smiles and says to his son, “The gods must like you. What shall we name him, Iri?” She is exhausted and nearly unconscious, however she holds off on her body’s desire to sleep so she can just hold her son. With heavy breath, she says “At last, I can meet you, my…son. You have stripped the world of its winds…and the air from my lungs. We shall name you Niltsi. You are my treasure, my trophy, my seed. You are my...life…” Roj shouts “My son, Niltsi!” leaving an echo to slowly scatter throughout the snow feathered forest.
Iri’s shivering becomes more intense as she loosens grip on her son and stares blankly off into the stars and into the moonlight. Her rough face is illuminated by the nocturnal sun, revealing a slightly open mouth housing a limp tongue and wide dilated green eyes. Her lips pale into an icy blue hue and the frosted trembling of her body ceases into a stale rest. She is motionless as Roj stares at her, waiting for the only lover he has known, to breathe once more. His eyes begin to wet themselves as he reaches for his calm son, wraps him in the robes custom made for him, and holds him tightly on his chest as his wife has done merely seconds ago.
Sobbing, he says “Niltsi…you and I now. You will not have just one soul in your body anymore. Just as your mother has carried you, you will now carry her. The gods have begun to test you, I know you are a great and fierce child, Niltsi…” A tear freezes into a transparent sculpture on his beard. Roj whispers “I know you will make them and your mother very proud.”
Noticing the calming of the weather, the people of the tribe begin leaving their homes to console Roj and care for his late wife’s lifeless body. As Roj sees them coming, he speechlessly stands up and walks home, shrugging off the hands of the community and ignoring their calls. His home will feel surprisingly full of spirit and love that night, as he sleeps alone with his newborn son, despite the one less soul in the residence.