On the day his wife Elena gave birth to his first child, Faurgil Zakithar was doing the same thing that many husbands did before him and many after him would do; he was drinking down his anxiety mixed with a fair share of ale.
And good ale, too.
While Rashemen was famed for its spirits, these were probably not the kind that people meant, although the strong, reddish-brown stout beverage allowed many a mortal to transcend beyond the edges of the perceivable world.
Faurgil was sitting in the Lodge of the Beaver, Dyernil’s common and mead hall. This was where the small settlement’s inhabitants went for meetings both formal and informal, to drink everything from the locally brewed dark ale to jhuild, the sacred and traditional Rashemi firewine.
It had room for about twenty five people but now only accommodated Faurgil and two of his friends present to lend him an ear, a shoulder and several drinks in this time of need.
“A fine brew,” Faurgil commented with an appreciating burp. “Best in all of R-Rashemen.” He pushed his mug forward on the large, unshaved and unadorned wooden table. “More of it, Kara.”
The female warrior, who had anticipated the request for a refill, took the large cup and expertly filled it again to its rim. Actually, her name was Yara, but it didn’t matter much. She offered it to Faurgil with a sympathetic smile and continued to work on the carving of her shortspear.
He answered the smile with a gratifying and somewhat sheepish one of his own and took a few hearty swigs. Then he sighed, swaying a little on his feet, with a worried look on his face.
A young man nearing his twenty-second winter, Faurgil Zakithar was a short but well-muscled man, with a stocky build and square shoulders. It took quite a lot of spirits to shut down his thinking process, and while he had drunk enough to boost his own spirit— with that furthered by his lack of sleep— it wasn’t enough to entirely block out his concern.
His friend Ervik put a steadying arm around his shoulders. “Don’t worry about it. With Liv’s birth I have spent almost the entire day here!”
Faurgil remembered that. “Yes. Well, we only annoy the missus, that’s for sure.”
Arn nodded. “Right you are. And if Elena’s having trouble, they’ll surely send someone over here to warn you.”
Ervik threw his other friend a warning glance, but it was already too late. Faurgil spent the next few hours staring at the skin-covered door.
The woman named Yara had finished her spears some time ago and had left to fetch some more materials and, of course, to silently check on Elena by means of the tiny village’s mouth-to-mouth network.
She returned to find the three men still sitting at the table with Ervik sharing tales of the birth of his son Liv only a month ago. Naturally these were stories he’d heard from his wife and her friends, since Ervik himself had been with Faurgil and Elena at the time. That was how it worked most of the time.
Faurgil’s face, careworn and covered with the stubble of a three-day beard was cupped in his hands, his fingers buried deep in his mass of light brown curls. His eyes, normally clear and lively, were walled and tired but they widened when the young woman entered the Beaver’s Lodge.
Yara’s broad smile caused the young man’s shadowed features to brighten as if by a shiny dawn.
“You have a son, Faurgil Zakithar, a healthy boy who took a look at the world and welcomed it with a great cry!”
The newly decreed father stood up, almost tripping over his own feet. “And Elena?”
“She is fine, and waiting for you.”
It was almost spectacular to see how the effects of the alcohol had left Faurgil’s body as he half-ran, half-stumbled into his home, his face red from the exercise, his curls damp and his shirt sticking to his back.
His wife lay on their bed covered with fine wool and fur. From under the swirly mass of her long blond hair, untied from its usual long braid, Elena’s dark brown eyes looked up to him, weary but full of pride and love.
“Hello...” he began, not knowing exactly what to say.
Elena watched her husband’s uneasiness with amusement and turned her attention to the warm bundle she held in her arms. “He says hello to us... well, Yevgeny, do you want to meet your father?”
Faurgil knelt beside his wife, his arm resting against the wall near her head, the other moving aside the small furry blanket a little.
“Is he supposed to look squished like that?” he whispered.
Despite her drained strength Elena punched her husband in the stomach. “He’s just been born, you idiot!”
She grinned and shook her head while Faurgil touched his baby son’s tiny cheek with one finger.
“Welcome to the world, Yevgeny,” he said, his greyish-brown eyes wide with wonder. “I hope you like it here...”