Father Adalard mounted the stairs, mentally preparing himself for the sight Eloise had described; a horrid, disfigured demon child.
His heart broke for the young woman. This was Colette's second child; her first was another daughter, Annette. She and her husband, Paul, had been hoping for a son, a boy to carry on the family legacy of sculpting and architectior. Sadly, Paul himself had died of a sickness four months ago, leaving his quickened wife a greiving widow. Colette had hoped that this next child would be the son he would never see; sadly that was not be.
Father Adalard wondered if the woman's shattered state had contriduted to the baby's deformity. Some of his collegues at the Church believed a woman's child could be corrupted by evil if her soul was weakened; Though Adalard himself was doubtful, it was surely something to consider.
Walking up the last flight of stairs, he cautiously pushed open the ajar door. The room was dimly lit by the candles, causing him to have to squint. The bed was rumpled greatly, and stained with blood. Wrinkling his nose, Father Adalard turned to see a pile of sheets piled in a corner. Colette lay beside it, her face a sickly color, her hair matted.
Adalard knelt beside her and grasped her arm, awakening her.
Colette stirred, moaning quitely. Her eyes were a bloodshot red, and tears streaked her lovely face.
"Father", she whispered, new tears gathering in the corners of her eyes, "It's a monster-I don't know what went wrong.."
She slumped back, curling up even more. Adalard frowned, then reached down and pushed aside the blankets.
Colette watched his reaction passively; he went pale, gulped, clutched his cross, then backed up slightly.
"It lives?" He asked her in a questioning voice, blinking in shock. "Yes." she gasped, burying her face in her arms, hiding her shame and disgust from the holy man.
Father Adalard gulped again. He had never seen anything like this-he had been expecting to see a deformed body, or missing facial features, not a so obviously demonic child.
Quickly, he made the sign of the cross over the baby girl, hoping that would be enough to spare the infant from evil.
"What-what do you wish to name her?" he asked Colette, wondering what name would suit the baby to himself.
Colette stared at him agast. A name. She needed to name it. Mon Dieu. She and Paul had discussed names, of course; they had selected Ronald for a son, and Beatrice for a daughter. But looking at her freakish child, Colette decided that a Beatrice she was not.
"I don't care." Colette groaned, leaning back. What was the use of naming a child who was sure to die?
Father Adalard thought a moment. What to name a baby with skin the shade and glean of a raven's wing? Wait-
"I name thee Raven." he said quitely to the sleeping girl.
Colette paused. Raven? (Oh who cares) she decided (It's as good as anything else, I suppose.)
Adalard wrapped both her and Raven in clean blankets as she gave in to blessed oblivion.
Eloise stared up the stairs. She was curious, but dared not mount the staircase, for fear of that demon child at the top.
"What is happening?" a soft, minute voice inquired.
Eloise turned to see young Annette Darkholme, clad in her nightgown, holding a candle.
"Go back to bed, darling." Eloise told the six year old, escorting the fair haired girl back to her bedchambers.
Her heart pounded urgently. She was scared, for it was not everyday someone birthed a devil child, but excited as well.
(Wait till I tell the girls about Mrs. Darkholme's child. They shall not believe me!)
Back to the Changing Faces index