Trigger Warning: This story briefly describes a stillborn child.
After our stay in Se Uladil, we travel onto Se Emira, another large city near a lake in the savannah. Some of you explore the city, while others recreate on the lake or rest at the inn. There are plenty of ways to stay entertained while in Se Emira. We only stay for one night, though, and I tell you one of the bedtime stories that’s common here.
* * * * *
In a bygone time, there was a woman named Nedia. Having recently worked with a matchmaker, Nedia was a newlywed. She and her husband were ready to start a family, and they desperately wanted a baby girl. Lorins’s siblings were all boys—five of them in total—and Nedia was the only girl out of four children. It was time both of their families had another girl.
Nedia listened to every rumor, every scrap of story regarding pregnancy and influencing the sex of an unborn child. An elderly woman who was visiting from foreign parts frequented the market during her stay. Women would gather around her, captivated by her stories about her female children. The elderly women’s first three babies were female, her first nine grandchildren were female, her first twenty-seven great-grandchildren were female, and so on. Everyone wanted to know her family’s secret.
With a wink, she told them the secret was a mixture of kauyus, ramabe, and shivana. In the right amounts, a combination of the three plants proved effective in making newborns female.
Nedia had never heard of these species, so she asked the woman where they could be found and what amounts were required. Kauyus was a flower that could only be found in the cold deserts on the planet Hassandri. Ramabe was a tall plant that was exclusive to the Guh Halize Desert on Lekra’s northern coast. Shivana was a berry shrub that grew in the high valleys of the treacherous Da Shairvo Mountains on the northern continent.
Determined to have a girl, Nedia told Lorins about the plants, and the two travelled north to the Linean portal in the Da Suaung Mountains. A merchant agreed to accompany them to the next portal. Linea was a hospitable planet with friendly natives, so they reached the portal to Tuema without incident. Tuema, on the other hand, was a strange planet with primitive inhabitants. Nedia and Lorins had to navigate many oceans and brave harsh winter storms, snow, ice, and towering mountains to get to the Hassandrian portal.
Once they reached Hassandri, they had even bigger problems to contend with. They had to cross a hot desert to reach the cold desert. With little to no vegetation, they would struggle to find shelter, not to mention food and water. They would have nothing to conceal them from the eyes of the dragons who guarded Hassandri.
The couple was thankful for the super speed their magic granted them, as it allowed them to travel more quickly than they would have been able to normally. Utilizing the shadows of night, they crossed the desert unseen by the sleeping dragons. When they found the kauyus, a pink flower with five petals, they collected it and stashed it safely in a wooden box.
After sneaking past dragons once more, they returned to Tuema and then to Bursna where they crossed the mountains to the Guh Halize Desert. They spent two weeks scouring the scorching, barren land. They were low on food and water. They were tired from so much travel. Just as they were about to give up and return to civilization, they found it. The ramabe was carefully stored alongside the kauyus.
From there, the couple travelled north to the ocean and secured passage on a trapper’s ship to the north. The sea voyage took quite some time, but they were able to recover their strength. When they reached the shore, they convinced one of the trappers to guide them to the Da Shairvo Mountains to help them find the shivana berry. After many weeks of hiking in the cold forest full of dangerous predators, they found the final ingredient. They secured a raft, which they took downriver, and returned to the coast where they boarded another ship and returned to Lekra.
Home at last, Nedia measured out the amounts the woman had specified and mixed the ingredients together before taking a dose. That night, she and Lorins lay together, and within two months, Nedia knew she was pregnant. After she carried her baby to term, she birthed a healthy newborn female.
Nedia and Lorins were ecstatic. Their efforts had paid off. They were happy with their daughter, spoiling her and giving her every luxury they could afford.
Two years later, Nedia became pregnant again. She loved her daughter and wanted another, so she combined the plants—she had leftovers—and consumed the mixture. This time she gave birth to another girl, but this one wasn’t healthy. She was a sickly creature, requiring Nedia to devote most of her time to caring for the unhappy child.
Nedia was thrilled when she became pregnant again, although she was nervous she would have another unhealthy child. She hoped for another healthy girl, so she mixed the plants once more and consumed them. This time her daughter was stillborn.
Nedia and her husband didn’t understand what was wrong with the potion. It had worked so well the first time. Why wasn’t it working now? Nedia cursed the elderly woman and her false stories. She was wrong about the potion. It may give parents daughters, but the children do no one any good when they’re dead or too sickly to care for themselves.
Nedia cast the remaining ingredients into the fire. She would never again take that potion.
A few months after having her stillborn daughter, Nedia became pregnant again. This time she had twins: two healthy baby boys. Before, Nedia would have despised having a boy, especially twin boys, but after the incident with the potion, she was grateful to have happy, healthy children. She would never again tempt fate.