Monthly Archives: December 2012

Willow’s Wind

The bag was old and made of leather, dark brown and smooth on the surface but the inside was rough.  The leather was thick but supple, the Healer had kept it well oiled.  It meant a lot to Willow that the Healer had entrusted the bag to her, it felt almost like a mantle, the strap around her shoulders a magical shield against danger.

So it was with great reluctance that she slipped the strap up over her head and gently set the bag on the floor.  The jars had begun clinking together and Willow realized that, not only would she be a walking target, they would probably break if she needed to do any fighting or heavy running.  She needed rags or towels or something to cushion them.

To her credit she only stared at the bag and fretted for a second before turning to begin her search.  Quietly, oh so quietly, she padded across the debris strewn floor gently poking through the larger piles but there were no rags to be had in the main room.

‘Maybe the curtains.’ Willow thought before turning to the interconnecting door.  She tip-toed carefully, still looking around the room until she reached the opening.

‘The Apothecary wouldn’t mind if I cut up her curtains for this, surely.’  Willow paused, hand on the wall just inside the door, and stared back at the main door for several seconds.  No sound disturbed the quiet except her own breathing.  She was alone.

Willow glanced at her bag and then slipped into the Apothecary’s back room.  The curtains ruffled oddly, they looked like they were being held in place by a person.

‘Blisters!’  She almost screamed, jumping back against the wall.  Her heart skipped a beat before her body started trembling.  A stray moonbeam found the window just as a breeze fluttered the curtain and Mica’s face lit up, her dead gaze now a grim parody of her once-lively soul.

‘Mica?’  Was the only thought Willow could muster as the grim realization struck home.  She took a shaky step forward.  The moon retreated behind a cloud shrouding the room in a dull, gray haze.  Before she knew it Willow was kneeling before Mica, her fingers probing the dead body of her friend looking for a pulse, a breath, any sign of life.

There was nothing.

Willow’s hands slowed and then dropped to her sides.  Her head suddenly became too heavy to hold up.  Tears stung her eyes before dropping from her eyelashes.

She had seen death before, of course, she was a Healer-in-training.  Why, not long before the invasion old Orion had passed and she had helped with his funerary preparations.  His wake had been splendid, a celebration of a life well lived and a rest fully deserved.

But Mica?  She was struck down in her prime, her life barely started.  It was so unfair.

Mica had been running away, already wounded yet they’d killed her anyway.  Casually snuffed out the beauty that was Mica even though she was obviously no threat to them.  Killed for no reason, she’d been killed for no reason.

Willow raised her head.  Her face was twisted up in a snarl.  ‘Curse these invaders,’ she thought, ‘make them die screaming!’  Whatever gods were listening must have heard her plea it was so intensely felt.  They must be moved into action by the base brutality or they were not gods at all.

Just as quickly as it had overcome her, the rage passed.  The spell had been cast and it left a cold residue of disgust within her.  Willow turned away, she couldn’t bare to stare at her dead friend any longer, the image already burned into her dreams.

A loose pile of rags lay before her, scattered amongst the debris of the broken furniture.

‘Perhaps the gods are listening after all.’  She mused before gathering up what she needed.

Willow couldn’t quite bring herself to look back as she left the room.

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Willow Wind

Quiet descended on the apothecary like a woolen blanket; covering the world in an oppressive, itchy silence that grew hotter by the minute.  There was an expectancy, of something held barely in check, that radiated through the air though only Mica’s still form was there to witness it.  Moonlight no longer lit her eyes quite as brightly.

A soft scrape, as from bare feet on stone, was quickly swallowed by the gloom.  Willow pressed herself against the wall just inside the doorway looking through it for any sign of danger.  Her heartbeat pounded in her skull, were those footsteps?

Her entire body shivered for a moment before she clenched her jaw and forced her fear back down.  No, the hallways were silent.  With a shaky hand she wiped the sweat from her brow and blinked hard a few times until her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the ruined apothecary.

Willow looked around with a growing sense of dread.  She hadn’t thought the room she had spent so much of her life in would be destroyed.  Not to this extent anyway.  Maybe a few jars broken, some supplies stolen but this?  It was as though they had systematically destroyed their entire supply of medicines.

With a jolt she realized that was exactly what they had wanted to do.  She felt soiled.  The idea was absolutely repugnant to her; to destroy what could only be used to heal, it was barbaric.  It was evil.

She felt a touch of the rage that so consumed the others.  These invaders meant to destroy all that was good in the world, they left nothing but misery and death in their wake.  Willow clenched her fists.  They must be destroyed.  For the good of the entire world these demons must be wiped from existence.

Just as quickly as it came the anger dissipated, turning to despair.  Willow slumped, expelling her breath in a long, low sigh.  With their supplies either stolen or trampled underfoot she would be unable to complete her mission.  The tribe needed those medicines, especially with the battle tonight.

Willow knelt and began sifting through the debris.  Maybe, if she could identify what was there, she might be able to salvage… no, it was useless.  Even if she could figure out which of the dozens of herbs she was touching she’d never be able to separate it out.  She was probably poisoning herself just doing this.

An idea formed.  The apothecary kept certain herbs locked away because they required gloves to handle or were extremely poisonous.  Maybe…  Willow scrambled behind a pile of debris that had once been a work table.  Her thin fingers moved over tiles on the wall, feeling for just the right one.

With a soft ‘click’ a tile depressed slightly and a panel above her swung up.  Willow stood and looked around, eyes wide.  Did anyone hear that?  After several long moments she finally turned to the now revealed shelves inset in the wall.

Rows of jars of various sizes, all sealed tight with cloth and string, sat on two shelves.  All the jars were clearly labeled and all were, mercifully, whole.  Willow breathed a sigh of relief.  It wasn’t what they’d wanted but at least it was something.  Carefully, she began placing the jars within her bag.

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