When I finally gained some semblance of consciousness, I was in a place that felt very warm and safe. I could feel, rather than hear a heartbeat that was not my own. It didn’t take much to figure out I was still yet to be born, and thus still inside what I presumed to be my mother. That of course was assuming, that the Lord of the Jade Palace that conducted my Judgement and presided over my reincarnation didn’t decide to have me born as some being, with a wildly different method of carrying their progeny to term, than I had assumed. The Judge, named Tian’Zun incidentally, was obviously unhappy with the extra work my reincarnation had given him, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if he’d done a little something to show his displeasure. He knew better, than to really blow it though. Even if I was to be reborn as someone rather weak and never rise up again, I used to have some good friends in my old life that could give him trouble.
‘Oh well, might as well enjoy the warmth and safety while it lasts.’ I idly mused. It was interesting though, how the feelings of warmth and safety were similar to the beginnings of my previous life. Even with my excellent memory, I had very little memories of my childhood, let alone the time of my birth. Living a long time does that to you. I did have a vague feeling, of a faint recollection, of the feelings of warmth and safety, mainly because those feelings were in very short supply after my birth on my previous go around. Part of the reason why I have so little memories of that childhood, was that I didn’t want to remember. There was no heartbeat of another last time. Of that I am sure.
It wasn’t too long though, before the time of my birth came. Births are a messy business no matter what race you are part of, unpleasant both for the child and the mother. It’s rather surprising how much just the feeling of air on your new skin and the light in your eyes can sting. I suppose that, and the feeling of being ripped from your safe place, is why every healthy child cries almost straight after birth. Unsurprisingly it didn’t cause much more than slight discomfort for me, seeing as how I’d had much, much worse in my previous life. My lack of crying seemed to be causing some worry to the woman that was handling me after the messy part was over.
The woman looked to be some sort of combination of a midwife and a healer, from what I could judge of her clothing, with my still somewhat goopy eyes. The woman was also clearly of some sort of elven heritage, with the typical pointy ears pointing backwards and slightly outwards from her head, among her long, light auburn hair. Rather long ears at that. I’d seen some different types of elves in my previous life. Some had ears just a bit pointy, while others had rather long ones like this woman. She was saying something to a person I could not see, the worry fading from her face as she looked at me, and I assume saw no obvious issues, and that I was in fact breathing. I would’ve liked to look around to see who she was talking to, but babies aren’t exactly known for the mobility of their necks, which she was supporting very gently by the way, so I had to make due at looking at what was shown to me.
The language she spoke was very melodic, almost like singing. Just what you would expect from an elf. My soul’s ability to absorb languages automatically was starting to work, and I was beginning to understand what she was saying. I had known getting that particular ability imprinted on my very soul would be a good idea, when I was considering the whole reincarnation thing.
“…your child seems to be fine sir and madam. Most children do cry out when born, but I’ve seen a few occasions before, where they simply didn’t feel like crying. Different temperaments and all that.” The midwife/healer was saying.
‘I knew I probably should’ve had made a small cry or something. Just feels weird to cry out with no reason.’ I thought.
“You have a very beautiful daughter. Perhaps the most beautiful newborn I’ve seen, and believe me I’ve seen plenty! And she seems perfectly healthy.” She continued.
‘Wait, what?! Maybe that language ability isn’t working so well after all, because I must have misunderstood that part!’ I thought with a little panic, getting stuck on the word “daughter” and missing pretty much everything after that.
The midwife/healer handed me to tall and very muscular male elf. Some feeling inside me told me that this golden haired man was my father. He took me gently into the crook of his arm and looked down at me. His eyes shined with obvious warmth and love. There was a little something else in his eyes that I almost missed, while still reeling from what I’d heard just before. A hint of…slight disappointment?
“You are right. She does look healthy. And maybe she’ll grow up to be gentle and mild mannered, unlike some of her sisters.” The man said with a slightly amused smile. “I can at least hope, that one of my daughters gives me some peace and quiet.”
‘There it is again. The D-word.’ I thought. Did Tian’Zun really have me reincarnate as a woman? ‘Son of a bitch!’ I always had something of a problem with harsh language, as it happens. I remembered immediately that I had forgotten to specify male as one of the conditions for my reincarnation, when he had asked for my input. I’d also had a habit of pushing people’s buttons, and I certainly had not made an effort to be courteous to Tian’Zun when he was judging me.
“Oh shush, dear!” I heard a beautiful and melodic voice, bringing me back from my thoughts. “Daughters are supposed to give trouble to their father. Now let me look at our baby.” My, now confirmed, father handed me gently yet again to another person, which I knew to be my mother. When I got a look at her from her arms, I was a bit stunned. Elves tend to be a beautiful race as a whole, but this one was definitely one of the most beautiful I’d seen so far. An ebony black hair with a slight sheen, that I later learned to be long enough to reach her knees. Sharp and fine facial features with dark blue, almost black eyes. Her skin was also decidedly paler than my father’s, though in a refined way. Currently flushed though, what with giving birth and all. I idly wondered if she was a different type of elf from my father and the midwife/healer. She reminded me of the Moon Elves I’d seen in my previous life, while my father looked more like a High Elf variant. I must have given her a smile, because she smiled broadly back at me with obvious joy and love.
“She really is beautiful girl. And she has such a nice smile for her mother. I really hope you aren’t too disappointed and will still love her. I know you want a son, my love.”
I heard the voice of my father reply: “I could never do anything, but love any child you have given me Asheara. And you know I absolutely love having daughters. But you also know we need a son to carry on the family work.”
Can’t get much clearer than that. I really had been reincarnated as a woman. Or girl as it were for now. This was going to be a bit of a problem. I had absolutely nothing against women, and I certainly wasn’t under any silly ideas about one sex being superior to another. I had even taken the form a female from different races a few times in my old life, when the situation called for it.
Having my true form as a woman was a bit of a problem though. Mana and Ki both flowed differently in women’s and men’s bodies, because of obvious differences in their internal structure. Their bodies also moved different, were balanced differently and also had differences in muscle structure and flexibility. I’d have to re-learn everything! The problem wasn’t even learning the ways to handle my new body when I was a little older; I was after all a quick study. The real issue was unlearning everything I had done by pure reflex for centuries in my old body. Imagine trying to cast a spell on pure instinct, making the mana flow in your body without a conscious thought, and then being forced to not do it the way you had done it a million times before.
There was also the fact that I had rather enjoyed the company of a few females from various races in my old life. I’d not call myself a ladies man though, owing partly to the brutal and bloody upbringing in my old life. Challenging to form loving relationships, after spending the first century of your life battling with your own kind, not even knowing if the next one you killed was your sibling or even your mother. My original race had not been big on family. I was kind of hoping to change that with my new life. To live a life filled with warmth and love, and forget most of my original one. To really have a family this time, instead of only striving to be the strongest. I suppose I still can do that, but this was going to complicate things a bit.
I had almost forgotten the midwife/healer, while I was snuggled in my mother’s arms, lost in my thought, while trying to maintain a smile. That is until I heard her speak.
“Come now. It is time to have the child tested. After that I can leave you to your happiness with your new daughter.”
‘Uh-oh! I was hoping they wouldn’t have any tests of ability or potential on this world, until I had learned a bit more about their world. There’s little chance I can hide anything when I’m just born and have absolutely no control over myself.’ I had lost my immense magical powers as well as my internal power, often called chi, ki, qi, kei or something similar when I died. That said my soul was still stupidly powerful when compared to other newborn, and there’s still a significant connection between a person’s soul and their source of magic and their inner strength. More specifically even though my newborn body had a meager amount of inner strength, the power would grow much faster and earlier than it should, thanks to my soul. And although I had actually no clue yet as to the amount of magical power this new body had, I was pretty sure it would be exceptional, and would grow even faster. Out of the norm, as it were. I didn’t want to stand out, at least not yet. I wanted to at least start out as normal as possible.
My whole previous life I had been what could only be described as “exceptional”. I hated that word. I had suffered because of it. Jealousy, rage, fear and the desire to own or defeat. That’s what it brought out in those around me. Never anything positive. Even the fact that it made me strong only brought more battles.
There wasn’t anything I could do about it at the moment though, as the midwife/healer brought what looked like a crystal ball towards me. “Have your daughter touch the crystal. If the crystal glows…well you know the drill, we’ve done this with your other daughters before.” She said.
‘Might as well get this over with’ I thought and reached to touch the crystal. When my hand touched it, the crystal started glowing a rather bright golden color. Nothing else happened though. I had expected something a bit more in depth.
“Oh, excellent! Your daughter has been blessed by a god or a goddess! And judging from the brightness, it is a greater blessing no less!” The midwife/healer said excitedly. Maybe I should add priestess or something to that list. “It was obvious that she had been blessed, from how beautiful she is! I knew it! She had to be touched by the Goddess of Beauty and Love Aphrodite!”
She was definitely excited. I’m guessing greater blessings aren’t very common. ‘Also, Beauty and Love? What? I suspected that Tian’Zun was planning to have me blessed by a local god to mask some of my growth-rate. But the Goddess of Beauty and Love? What the heck? He really was trying to get his money’s worth from this being born as a woman thing! Also as a side note: Aphrodite? I’m pretty sure I’ve visited at least one world with a Goddess of Love with that same name. Is it like a trend among the gods?’
The midwife/healer/priestess wasn’t finished it seems. “At age 16, when you have her tested for magical abilities, we can also find out the exact details of her blessing. Ah, it’s been a while since we’ve had anyone with a greater blessing from a god other than the protector of the Elves, Elune. The greater gods tend to be so territorial, blessing only their chosen race and the lesser gods rarely go out of their way to bless members of the chosen races.”
‘I’m guessing a greater blessing qualifies going out of their way. I wonder if the gods of this world make all their blessings consciously, or is there some automation involved.’ I had known a few gods in my old life where they just set things up where children with certain traits would get blessed automatically. Either way, I was rather glad the test had been just for that purpose. Also now I knew there was to be a more precise test when I turned 16, so I had time to prepare.
My parents seemed happy with the result. Father was smiling happily and thanking the midwife/healer/priestess and mother was whispering some baby talk at me, with the general content of “That’s my girl!” while lifting me up and giving me kisses. At least the kisses felt nice, even if the conversation was lacking. ‘Oh well. Being a baby comes with good sides and bad sides I suppose.’
Seeing my father again reminded me of something, I hadn’t really taken notice before. ‘What kind of work does my father do that would require a son that badly? I mean we are elves, inherently magical beings, and I can sense that my father is strong enough to know, that physical strength is only somewhat related to bodily strength and muscles. Most of physical strength comes from the application of inner strength, so there should be no problem with a woman performing most work that is generally considered mostly for men. Some of the best warriors and craftsmen I’ve known have been female. In fact, I’m pretty sure mother is stronger than father.’
It would take me a long time before I got a proper explanation for that question.
I was right with there being good sides and bad sides to being a baby. There’s a kind of cultural shock with going from a being that can make gods afraid to a baby that needs help with…shall we say waste management. Also while I can appreciate the female form, being breast fed sort of takes the luster out from that. Luckily that part didn’t last very long. Apparently elves wean their children after only a couple of weeks, or at least my family does. I do appreciate the closeness with my family though, especially my mother and my sisters. Father tends to spend most of his time working. It’s quite frustrating when people around me are talking about him working as if it’s obvious what he does, and I can’t actually ask any questions for clarification. Not only because it would be odd if a baby this young suddenly talked, but also my vocal cords aren’t quite up to it yet. Fancy that.
I did however learn a few things both about his work and about our family in general. My mothers name is Asheara and she apparently really is a Moon Elf. My father, Elluin is also High Elf as I suspected, but here on this world they’re called Eldarinwe. From what I heard, there are other types of elves, but I didn’t hear anyone specify them. I will learn about that later, I’m sure. I had four sisters, Delia, Selene, Selvaria and Elsaria. Elsaria, the youngest aside from me, had inherited more of my mother’s Moon Elf blood, while the others were clearly more Eldarinwe in their looks. I still had no idea what I looked like. I could finally turn my head properly, but there wasn’t a surplus of mirrors in the parts of the house I’ve been in. Speaking of, we were part of House Khalidor. The irony of my last name including the name of the Queen of Inferno, Khali, was not lost on me, and, I suspect, neither was it lost on Tian’Zun. I had known Khali in my previous life, and she’d get a real kick about my new last name. If she ever found out, that is.
Ours was not a noble House, from what I understood, but I got the feeling it was something similar. We had, from what I could see, a rather large manor home, with numerous servants, soldiers and the like. Yes an actual manor, not one of those hippy tree houses some elves inhabited. Though the architecture was very detailed and beautiful, with lots of open space, white pillars with carvings and arching wide windows. The whole building had a very airy feeling to it, and I suspect winters weren’t really a thing here. I got the sense my father was respected as if he was a noble of high rank, if not more, yet it was for his work and not his position that garnered such. It was as if someone had combined the wealth and authority of an important merchant with the respect for a great warrior.
My sisters spent a great deal of time with me, more that I had expected in fact. My family seemed to enjoy the fact that I was a rather calm and happy child. Apparently my siblings were quite fond of their new baby sister, and every time my mother put me down, one of them was there to try and pick me up, with mixed success. The youngest, Elsaria was only two years old, and as such didn’t really have the strength required, as light as I was. The second youngest Selvaria was only four years old, but rather strong so she had no trouble with it, although she preferred to mostly just play with me and do the baby talk everyone seems to love to do. I suppose I can live with that, even if it didn’t make for a stimulating conversation. Selene and Delia, six and eight respectively, were the real baby carriers. I did enjoy it though. Closeness with my family had been an important goal for my new life as I mentioned.
‘Mother and Father really tried for that son every two years, or thereabouts. I’m guessing they’ll try again and I’ll have a baby brother or sister in about two years again.’ I thought, as I considered that my family really seemed rather child rich for elves. ‘Whatever my father’s work is, he really seems intent on passing it on to a son.’
Related to that, I had made some initial tests to the nature of my inner strength and magic. As you might expect, the physical side of my inner strength was rather low what with being a newborn and all, and my Ki pathways were actually rather mediocre, even for someone this young. I would have to do something about that, when I got to a point where I could walk around without raising suspicion and could spend some time alone. I knew some body modification techniques that would work just as well for a girl, even if wasn’t yet familiar with my new body. That would get me jump started. I had no desire to seek strength in the same intensity as I had in my previous life, but I would rather have enough to protect myself and those close to me. Also life was just a lot easier when you had high inner strength. For example, when you can run faster and longer than whatever this world used as steeds, traveling became much more simple.
Inner strength had a fairly large mental component though, which was heavily influenced by your soul. That part I had in spades, but you can’t run all that strength through my current body. Hence the need for improvement when I got a bit older. I could however run it outside my body, as something called Touki. Touki was something that protected the body like armor would, except it also worked against some magical effects in addition to blades. So I’m a pretty well protected baby against external threats like knives and scissors, and whatever else kids could hurt themselves on, but if one of my sisters were to drop me, I’d still get hurt inside from the impact like a normal kid would. Funny how that works.
As for magic, I ran into a surprising problem. My plan was to test out the magic of this world one night, when everyone was asleep, but couldn’t actually do anything. I could sense my mana inside me, and I could also sense there was quite a large amount of it, but it felt like there was something missing. Like there was a gate in the road that the mana was supposed to take, but the gate was closed. I could affect the mana on the other side, but not actually do anything with it. During the last weeks I could see magic used a couple of times for normal tasks, and I could sense much more being used in the manor, so the ability to utilize magic to at least some degree wasn’t rare. I wagered a guess, that this barrier was something that either needed to be removed by someone already capable of magic, or it was something that would dissipate with time.
This might have something to do with the test that was supposed to be administered at age 16. If I had to guess, the gods had made it like that so that the children would not kill themselves before being old enough to learn proper usage. Kind of annoying, but I could live with that. I could still use the time until then, to meditate and refine my mana, so that when the time actually came, I’d be at my best. Being a baby tended to boring at times.
I didn’t think it was all that likely that I would have to use my magic to protect myself as a baby anyway, with the guards around the place, and I did have a couple of tricks up my proverbial sleeve if something really did happen. As it turns out, that’s not quite how things worked out…