Claire was fourteen and living alone in a formerly abandoned shed just outside the village of Chamonix, near a cliff overlooking the Valley of Flowers… a humble dwelling.
Blue Grotto – Chapter 24

Claire is the giant magician Sinibaldus’ mother. By the time of the telling of The Crystal Crux tale in 1198, she is long dead. Her story is told in flashbacks.

She was a stray who learned enough about scavenging to work her way off the streets. It got to the point where elders in the community took her under their wing and helped educate her, providing her with the title to this little property outside the city.

In the winter of 1123, however, a storm passed over the Alps and buried the city.

Claire had plenty of supplies and wasn’t concerned, that is until something beat on her door. Hesitant, she lifted the lock and a beast of a man dressed in black bear clothing fell in, injured and exhausted.

Claire dragged him inside and shut the door. She tended to his wounds, scared of him but focusing her thoughts on the Biblical teachings of entreating strangers. She even read him, a templar, scripture from scraps of paper she’d been given.

When the man was healthy enough to stand and move about the cottage, he only grunted and growled like an animal, mad in the eyes, soon taking advantage of her, breaking her things and stealing her possessions. When the weather cleared. he went away, leaving her for dead.

The elders found Claire in the cabin on the floor with the door open, freezing and bleeding, nearly dead. They took her back into the town and tended to her.

They discovered she was pregnant and many considered it a miracle. Claire had survived a demonic encounter and God must have blessed her with a heavenly babe. A few were ready to write the Pope and have her sainted.

And then the thing was born.

It’s not a child, Claire,” Father Lamaire explained. “It’s a beast, a creature, a test. This pallid thing is not a blessing. We were wrong. An incubus from hell has placed a demonic seed in you and if you don’t destroy it, it could destroy the world. You must show God you love Him and only Him. Do not love this grotesque. It does not have a soul anyway. Kill it with your own two hands and prove to everyone in Chamonix that you are not a disciple of the devil.
He leaned over to get a better look at the albino in her arms. Sinibaldus hissed at him.
My Lord, the creature has teeth already.” Father Lamaire shook his head. “Claire, the people will stone you both if you are unwilling to do the right thing. We cannot have this evil beast in our midst and you are wicked if you decide to keep it.” And with that, he took his Bible and left.
Blue Grotto – Chapter 24

Claire snuck out the storeroom window with the child and all the supplies she could carry. She went into the wilderness, into a mountainous region the Christians said was full of uncivilized, flesh-eating cave-dwellers. She knew they’d never follow her there. But could she survive?

She was about to move again when two raggedy women appeared. Their faces and hair were decidedly filthy. They were wretched and worn, wearing even less dress than she. They had climbed out of a hole in the nearby ground in a place she hadn’t noticed.
Claire was petrified….
The women stared at Claire with suspicious eyes. And then Sinibaldus began to cry.
Un enfant?” One woman asked, a hint of enthusiasm in her voice.
Claire was apprehensive. “Yes, my child.”
Sinibaldus suddenly stopped crying and pushed his face out of the swaddling cloth. He fought Claire and made her put him down…. Naked and white, Sinibaldus tossed away the swaddling blanket and stood on his own two feet to face the disheveled women.
The women gazed at the child with affection and pleasing sighs, cupping their hands and placing them over their mouths. Meekly they began pointing toward their private hole in the ground, inviting Claire and the child to enter.
Claire didn’t have a chance to say no, or even consider it. Sinibaldus took his first shaky steps towards the women.
Claire turned back to the beaten trail behind her and thought about the village of Chamonix, the angry Christians she had come to love and trust, the ones now willing to stone her to death… Claire spat on the ground. A sense of pride roared up. The tears were gone. She followed her toddling son and together they went with the raggedy women into the hole.
Blue Grotto – Chapter 24

Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series The Crystal Crux

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