Chapter 1 – Before an Unexpected Party – Way Before

Two green eyes opened suddenly, blinking blearily at the sky above. Xamira groaned as she lifted a hand to cover her eyes and block them from the glaring sun. Sun. She thought. It was raining outside, and I was in Auntie's office. She sat up abruptly. When did I get outside? She looked around herself and realised she was no longer in the familiar study. Her brow furrowed in confusion as she looked around at her surroundings. Lush rolling hills with what appeared to be circular doors set into them enclosed her with short stout trees dotted about, shorter than any of the trees in the forests of her home. Her heart began to pound wildly in her chest as she scrambled to recognise where she was or how she had gotten there, but she was unable to remember.

As she was trying to get her bearings she heard a strangled gasp from somewhere to her right. She spun around to see where the noise came from when she heard the noise again. Someone was in pain, female from the sound. She might have no idea where she was or how she got there but her instincts told here that there was nothing to fear in this place, as did Xera's placid demeaner beside her; she had only just noticed her familiar was with her: but if there was one thing Argenta had raised all of her girls to know as instinctually as breathing was if that if someone was in need of help and you cold give it; you did.

So Xamira put aside her own problems for the moment, and searched for the source of the pained gasps, which where becoming louder. She hurried along the path she had found herself on, with her familiar following behind her. The trail led her into a copse of trees and bushes that were rather secluded and off from the obviously well walked part of the path. Pushing aside branches and brambles Xamira peered around looking for the sound. Her eyes were drawn downward when a loud gasp filled with surprise and pain filled her ears. It was there that she saw something or rather someone she had never seen the like of before. It was a small woman, clearly no taller than four feet perhaps, with large feet that curls of auburn hair on the top that matched the curls atop her head. The woman was also obviously heavily pregnant, and from the way she was hunched over and clutching at her stomach, she was also likely in labour. She was also looking at Xamira who stood, towering above her, with fear and pain filled eyes.

Both beings looked each other in the eyes at a standstill. Both caught in a moment of surprise together. The small woman's next labour pain broke the stalemate, as let out an agonising gasp as a wet rush of water and blood began to stain the front of her skirt. She looked down at the growing wet red patch with terror, tears and trembling lips. Xamira didn't hesitate. She reached forward swiftly but gently and lifted the shaking woman into her arms and asked her.

"Where is your home? I will get you there. You and your child will be fine."

The woman shook in Xamira's arms, not even seeming to notice she was no longer on the ground, but something in Xamira's voice or words steadied her, and her body began to relax, reassured by the stranger's words. She trusted them. Meeting her eyes she said;

"Further up the path, the green door at the top of the hill, my home, Bag End."

Nodding, Xamira began to run down the path the woman had told her to follow, careful not to stumble and keep the woman as steady as she could in her arms. A sharp whistle drew Xera to her side, and the Daemon ran beside her. She saw the green door of the home nestle into the tall hill at the end of the path. With a quick jerk of her head she sent Xera ahead and the familiar was quick to follow her order, shifting into her larger form and over taking the witch and her delicate parcel.

The large cat reached the green door and batted her head against it powerfully in an imitation of a knock. Feet could be heard shuffling their way hurriedly toward the door. Just as the door bagan to open a crack the Daemon shouldered her way in pushing the door wide open and bowling over the small man who was behind it. He let out a startled shriek at seeing the animal invading his home, but before fear could even begin to creep into his heart Xamira was through the door herself giving commands.

"Quickly where is there a bed? She is in labour."

Seeing the woman, his wife dripping blood, in the strange tall woman's arms spurned the startled man into action and he directed her down the hall to the master bedroom, where she stripped the bed of the top blankets swiftly with one arm and gently laid the woman down upon them, turning to the still shocked and now shaking man who had begun wringing his hands and muttering to himself.

"It's too soon. It's too soon. Baby's not due for another two months. It's too soon. It's too soon."

Xamira knelt beside the man and grasped his twisting hands in hers, causing him to look up at her.

"Listen to me. There is no time to fetch a healer. I've helped to deliver a babe before. You must fetch the fresh boiled water and clean linens. I will also need the herbs; chamomile, raspberry leaf and shepherd's purse. Your wife is premature labour and her water has already broke. The bleeding must be stopped, and the baby delivered. I will do everything in my power to save them both, you have my word."

At her words Bungo's quaking stopped, and a sense of calm filled him. He nodded his head firmly, and quickly set to fetching the things he had been asked. He had been so afraid seeing his bleeding wife in the stranger's arms, terrified he would lose both his beloved wife Belladonna and their dear miracle child. They had had such a hard time conceiving, for a while believing perhaps it was not meant to be. Belladonna had despaired that it was her fault they could not have the family they wanted, that she was barren, haven taken too many falls or strikes on her adventures, but finally they had found Belladonna was with child. They had been so blissfully happy, eagerly awaiting welcoming their child into the world. Belladonna had set out on her usual morning walk after first breakfast, normally back by second breakfast he had begun to worry when it was almost elevenses and there had been no sign of her. He had just been thinking about going out to look for her when there had been a loud banging knock at the door of Bag End and he had been knocked over by a giant cat creature and female elf holding his bleeding wife.

Whilst the short man was off fetching the water, linens, and herbs she had asked for Xamira set to work herself. She quickly stripped herself of her weapons and armour that she had been wearing as part of the honour procession of her Aunt's funeral, pushing aside again the pain of thinking of her Aunt's death and focusing on the urgent task at hand.

"Okay."

She addressed the woman and herself, rolling up her sleeves to the elbow.

"Let's help this baby into the world."