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"I am sorry, this will hurt. You have lost too much blood, I cannot give you anything more for your pain." The wrinkled hands worked quickly and competently, but felt like a combination of butterfly flutters and burning embers in the raw furrows on her back. "I must clean the wounds thoroughly or risk sepsis - there is great risk of it even so."
Wincing, beads of perspiration dotting her forehead, she nodded and breathed, "Do what you must."
He considered her story as he bent to his task. She hammered on his door shortly after dark, bloody and barely able to stand, saying something about a Packran lion. He had never heard of someone surviving such an encounter! Yet here was proof at his fingertips, and lying on the cot at her side. He glanced at the fuzzy cub as it lazily alternated between licking and chewing its oversized paws. "You are part human - part Elf, I must mix treatments." Glassy eyes in a pale, drawn face fixed upon him. "The last Elf I saw was treated by my master when I was an apprentice as a young man." Indicating his white hair with a wry smile, he added, "That was a little while ago. But I still have many of his old medicines and texts on the shelves. In ten days or so, you should be past danger. Then you can be on your way."
She searched his face as he mentioned her mixed race and saw only kindness and concern. Deciding he was a good man, she sank a bit lower into the cot and said in a low voice, "I am leaving in the morning." He started to protest, but she stopped him by explaining her urgent quest to find the pass to the abandoned fortress.
He nodded understanding, then stunned her with a sly smile: "If you promise to stay at least two full days and nights and follow my every instruction, I will tell you what you want to know."
Startled, she tried to sit up, but a firm hand stopped her. She tried to speak, then wet her lips and tried again, "Y-you KNOW where the pass is?"
He nodded as he daubed a dark, pungent-smelling paste onto a compress and gently applied it. "Yes, it was known to many travelers in my younger days."
Thoughts spun out of control and exploded in her head until she held it in her hands, and finally spoke through her fingers in a small tired voice, "As you wish - yes, of course."
Genuine relief transformed his features. "Good, you will stay here so I can keep an eye on you." He gently finished tying her bandages, then helped her get settled.
Gratitude and security flooded into her, instantly replaced by crushing fatigue. Too tired to do anything but completely entrust herself to him, she collapsed into a deep sleep.
He quietly washed his hands in a basin, then silently retrieved his cloak and cap. He watched the sleeping woman through glowing eyes as he opened the door. The huntress Aranée had already become fairly well known and respected by the people of the Aeritan Forest. But after he had told the story of her encounter with the lion, her fame would spread quickly - maybe across the entire breadth of the Disputed Lands. He softly whispered, "Sleep well, M'Lady - for tomorrow you will surely become a legend."
TO BE CONTINUED!
There will be a short hiatus for the Aranée story while I finish work on the Misty book. I wanted to leave her in a better state than she was as a result of the last chapter. Also, this one sets the stage for important later events.
FIRST CHAPTER -:- NEXT: Fight at Melius Tavern -:- PREVIOUSLY: Aftermath
Image and story © 2008 Larry Hodge
Sep 24, 2008 10:19:34 pmby brewgirlca Online Now! Homepage »
FANTASTIC story! Oh this is just the best of the works so far! The story is excellent and well written and the picture is truely wonderful. You have surpassed yourself with the soft rich earthy lighting on this one. It at once implies a sense of peace and yet drama. And yet you got rather sharper lighting to highlight the bottles. Truely a master's touch. And finally The point of view could not be better. Favourite with no hesitation.
Sep 27, 2008 9:19:52 pmby redheadgrrl Homepage »
Oh this is a great scene - and a fabulous render. Honestly, I think this is one of your best, so far, the details and the posing is great, Larry. I'm on a wee break too, since I am working towards my deadline with "September Canvas" since I'm sleepless in Sweden at the moment, I'm fiddling around with DAZstudio a bit while the rest of my family sleeps.