“This… isn’t… as… bad…” Kyriala panted, threw off Farasha’s hands and lunged off the chaise. She walked around to the pool formed of Selinae’s hair and pulled off the elaborate over-night gown that was one of the traditional birthing gowns, leaving her in her shift. She cupped her bulging belly with both hands, taking a little strain off her skin, veined with blue lines, the dark line down the middle barely visible through the delicate linen.
She stepped down into the pool and sank into the warm water with a sigh. “Not as painful as the miscarriage. Where’s—“ Minis came in, calm, with the Fenjitzas’s arm over his shoulder. He ducked out from under the priest’s arm and climbed in to fold his arms around Kyriala, heedless of his own robes. “Minis! The silk will be ruined!”
“Hang the silk. How are you?”
She thought for a moment, tilting her head to one side. “Terrified. Excited. Relived as in this is finally done and I’ll be able to ride again—“ he could feel her muscles under his arms begin the next clench. “Oooh, that was stronger but it could be days, not beads!”
Minis looked up at Narilla, who sat to one side, hands folded. She shook her head slightly, held up one hand, fingers and thumb spread. Beads? She thinks five beads?
“Whatever you need, my darling.”
“I’m craving steak,” she said. “Or roast beef with horseradish sauce, ooh, I’m hungry and I haven’t had any breakfast. Steak and eggs with cream sauce? I’m so hungry...”
“Food’s coming,” Minis said. “They heard your cravings.”
She pushed off his chest and climbed out of the hot water, pacing restlessly back and forth, slowly, pausing as she walked, clinging to Selinae’s stone coils of hair. “Oh, there’s Gan!” Minis followed after her, dripping, and set his arm around her waist as she leaned between two loops of hair to look down at the Temple floor so far below, at Gan holding vigil at the marble toes of the Goddess. He waved, smiling, she waved back.
“Please don’t slip and fall, Kyriala. You’re all wet and the marble is slick…”
“Oh, poo, I’m fine!” But she turned away from the balustrade. A servant wisked Minis’s soaking over-robe away, leaving them both in their underthings.
You’re jittering and flitting around like a butterfly, he thought, but wisely didn’t say anything. “Your snack is here, Ky.” Both of the foodtasters were there and nodded as they wisked the covers off the trays.
“Oh, good! Ooooh! Oooh! That twinged!”
“You’re strong, love. You can do this.” Minis caught eyes with Akminchaer who was sitting at a tiny desk to one side. He smiled and nodded and Minis swallowed hard. “Have a bite or two to keep your strength up.”
Ky looked suddenly ill. “I’m not sure… it smelled so good, but now it’s making me feel sick.”
They put the lids down again and Minis lifted a bowl out of an ice-tray. “Just a spoonful of iced milk?”
“Yes,” she said uncertainly. Then slid back into the bath. “But here!”
“Here,” he said and took the frosty bowl and spoon with him. It’s going to be a long day for everyone.