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There once was an evil queen whose destruction was foretold in legend. The bringer of her destruction was to be an infant, and this infant would be known by a birthmark. And so, when the prophesied time had arrived, the queen inspected every child born in her kingdom. When the baby was found, she sought to kill her, but a good midwife placed the child in a basket in the river where it was discovered by a kindly halfling wife who, naturally wanted to adopt her. The baby’s innocence and vulnerability evoked compassion from the good woman; and so, to the dislike of her husband, Willow, the baby was taken into their home and given asylum. Until…
Well, the story features unlikely heroes, alliances, conversions, epic battles, faeries, magic and monsters—you know—all the things that make a fantasy story great.
The baby isn’t really a main character, because babies don’t do much. But, she is the main theme. Her safety, and the hope that she represents, are what spur the characters on.
The baby is at first hated—the evil queen, Bavmorda, believes that if she kills the baby, her monarchy will remain intact. To end a young, innocent life is convenient and so she has no qualms about doing it. That’s the thing about evil, it has no concern for another’s welfare. It is devoid of nature, because our nature is to love.
A few relatively powerless people get involved—first the midwife, then Willow’s family, and two silly sprites. But, it’s not power that will win here—power is what Bavmorda has.
When the baby is at Willow’s house, Bavmorda’s scary dog creatures ransack his village looking for the baby. When he reveals that he has what the dogs are looking for, Willow is charged by his village to get the baby to “a responsible person” and so he embarks on his journey to find someone who is capable of giving the baby what she needs… or the first person he sees. Because all Willow wants is to get home and neutralize the threat to his community.
When he comes across a big person, Madmartigan, he just wants to dump her off with him. Who cares that Willow found this guy in a crossroads cage? He could have been put there for anything… and he was willing to take her in exchange for his freedom. Madmartigan was motivated to take the baby, not because of any tender feelings, or even honorable intentions, but because he valued his own personal freedom. He really wasn’t any different from Willow that way.
But, when Willow discovers that the baby is actually in danger, his true nature is revealed, and he is protective of her. He has already emotionally adopted this baby; he feels responsible for her and risks his life to save her.
Madmartigan is helping… not helping… depending on whether it suits him, but he’s a major waffler. However, his best nature wins out eventually, and he too becomes a custodian for the little one.
Bavmorda’s daughter, Sorsha, is given the task of hunting down the baby to destroy her. She believes that this will gain her approval from her mother, but that nasty woman only loves herself. Sorsha, after discovering feelings for Madmartigan (there was some moonlight, poetry, a magic potion… it was kind of out of her control), is moved by her new boyfriend’s tenderness toward the child and is willing to abandon her mother’s quest to defend the baby.
The good guys win, Bavmorda dies, and Sorsha and Madmartigan get married, adopt the baby and restore the kingdom (or is it queendom?) to safety and justice.
And all this because of a baby. Though she didn’t really do anything to affect the change that happened in all of those people and in the realm, there is something important about her very existence. Babies have the potential to bring out the instinct in us that, in my opinion, is most like God’s—the instinct to care for those who can’t care for themselves.
I consider myself an adopted child of God. He came to my aid (and continues to) when I most need Him and gave me a name, a heritage, and an inheritance. Not because of anything I did, but because I am vulnerable. And I can try to show that same compassion others. Though I am relatively powerless, much like the baby and even Willow and his gang, my compassion can be a stronger power than any evil on earth.