I lost track of how many times I brushed close with death over the following weeks. Bad luck placed me as the runt overwhelmed by the others in the womb. Heather, Theo, and Lucian certainly had their own problems too, yet I had all those problems and more. The past week alone an infection led to a fever, which lead to intense vomiting, which led to severe dehydration, and so on. I wonder if this body would have been able to make it had I not had the mental fortitude of my previous life to support me.
“Is she sleeping?”
Father, slumped and a little stinky, slowly glided us in the rocking chair placed within the beams of sunlight streaming into the makeshift nursery.
“No,” he replied groggily to the entering visitor, coming to from an exhausted daze, “but I would like to be.”
“What are you talking about? You only look half dead.”
The other man pulled up a chair to sit nearby. So many people came and went that keeping them all straight proved difficult with my vision developing at a snail’s pace, but his smooth voice I could finally recognize. It belonged to Uncle Cedric, Father’s younger brother and lone sibling. Satisfaction filled me at getting to learn and grasp more of the world around me. However, I remained unsettled in reached fluency with the native language, Iteusian, in less than a week. Rapid comprehension being a ‘benefit’ of my choice of reincarnation was the only explanation that sounded plausible.
“You are the least charming person I have ever met. How you managed to attract Stella, I’ll never know.” Father mustered strength enough to jokingly punch his brother’s arm. However, he quickly slouched back into the chair’s cushioning and spoke seriously, “And I know it was in jest, but please do not mention anything related to dying. The threat of it is too real right now.”
“I’m sorry. I should have thought more.” Uncle Cedric instantly sobered, leaning over to tenderly stroke my head. “The healers say she is doing better though, right?”
“Yes. They believe the worst of Evianna’s current troubles have passed...until something rears its head tonight, I’m sure. She’s needed two jars of Syara’s Grace just this week to keep going.”
“Truly? So much? That’s...”
Syara’s Grace had to be that creamy goop. Must be important stuff the way the two talked about it, for the healers had also remarked on how fortunate it was that Father married the woman whose family produced it. A knock on the door cut off Uncle Cedric.
“How is everything?” The new blurry figure walked into the room. His voice was one of the first I learned due to its regal deepness and enunciation. It was Grandfather Leomer— the king of Solstice.
“Both Evianna and I are doing what we can to rest, but should you not be in the meeting? Victari was adamant on you needing to attend,” Father wondered.
“I postponed it. Sometimes one needs to be a father before one needs to be a royal.” Grandfather’s head was too far away to be anything other than gray and blobby, but I felt confident he smiled widely. “Eagan, would you like to rest? That is what your brother and I came here to offer.”
“I thank you, but rest isn’t going to come. As soon as I put Evianna in her crib, nerves send my skin crawling. You’ll have to lure me away eventually. However, for the moment, I want to be here with her, like this. Conversation about anything other than the children’s health would be a most welcome distraction though.”
“That we can do,” Grandfather said warmly.
“How about we say who we think is the cutest?” Uncle Cedric poked my cheek.
“Cedric,” Father sighed.
“It’s me. I believe I am the cutest.”
“Cedric,” Father laughed, shaking his head.
“What? Do you really think I would ask you to pick between your four gorgeous children? I mean, I know Father must be partial to this little one since she shares the lovely gold hair he gave to her and I.”
Oh? I was blonde? That was nice. Although, I as Persephone had started out blonde as well. Maybe my hair would darken the same, in time, as Evianna.
“They are all dear,” Grandfather pulled over another chair, “including the surprising youngest.”
“I’ve been meaning to have a talk with that Riton priest who predicted the three but not her, if only for the fact that Attwell and Alice have been giving Renira and I grief over her name,” Father explained, amused. Attwell and Alice were Mother’s parents. “They wanted us to continue the tradition they started with Everlaine daughters having names ending with –ira, but we were determined to use ‘Heather’. A second daughter and opportunity caught us off guard. I said ‘Evianna’ trying to create a base we could work from...”
“And the decision was made, I see,” Uncle Cedric chuckled. “Well, they’ll simply have to let the tradition continue through Dianira.”
That was Mother’s seventeen-year-old sister. Who, speak of the devil, must have poked her head inside as she suddenly giggled from the doorway.
“Oh, hello everyone. I came to see if Eagan needed help, but I can see you’re covered.”
“Actually, if you have shown up in this moment as well, it must the world telling me to take my chance at rest. I will likely fail, but I will go try to sleep. Father, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course not.” Grandfather gladly took over Father’s spot in the rocking chair with me. Father placed a kiss on my head, second-guessed his decision, and took a deep breath before leaving. Aunt Dianira made the empty chair hers where a suspicious silence captured the room until Father was well and gone.
“You found a smooth way to signal me with my name, Cedric. I’m surprised all of us coming in one by one worked though,” Aunt Dianira remarked.
“Eagan’s always struggled when under intense pressure and stress, which, as adorable as these little ones are, the children are causing much of.” Grandfather brushed our noses together.
“He’ll be able to get proper rest this time as long as he chooses to drink the tea I asked Felicity to bring him. I put a bit of fyrthe mint in there,” Uncle Cedric said.
“Are you admitting to drugging your brother?” Grandfather sighed loudly while Aunt Dianira burst out laughing.
“It’s not drugging him. Harmless fyrthe mint is hardly going to force him under. It will simply help take the spikes off his nerves, and with how exhausted he is it’ll allow him to rest without issue.”
“This one time I will overlook this,” Grandfather warned.
“Like there wasn’t that one time he put actual valerian medicine in my drink to make me doze off?”
“Wait, when was this?”
“...Right. Eagan bribed me to never say anything. I forgot.”
“I thought Reni and I caused trouble,” Aunt Dianira kept laughing.
I couldn’t help but to smile along with her, which attracted the others’ attention and momentarily diffused the situation.
“We’ll talk about this later,” Grandfather decided. He rocked me with more vigor, prompting my heavy eyelids to drop and my own chance at rest to slip me away into peace.