The Healer’s Daughter – Part 6

fantasy, fiction series, creative writing

When she woke she was disoriented. It took her a few moments to remember where she was and what had happened. Opening her eyes, she saw Screbra standing before her, tan hand on her shoulder. He had woken her.

“Up you get,” he said not unkindly. “We’ve prepared everything. It’s time you were on your way.

Getting to her feet, Launi stretched her cramped muscles. She’d awoken just as she’d fallen asleep, curled in the armchair.

“Thank you for everything Screbra. I’m not sure what I would do otherwise,” she admitted as he led her from the house.

“You’re welcome,” he said simply.

There was a small crowd in the village center. It was close to midday; she must have been asleep for only a couple of hours. Her eyes felt heavy as did her limbs, but her mind was awake, aware of the task ahead of her. She was ready.

Travi, the man who had first brought her to Screbra’s home earlier that morning, handed her a water skin. “The rest is on the horse. This is for your bag.” He nodded towards the bag slung across Launi’s back.

“Thank you, Travi.”

He nodded.

The crowd followed her, Travi and Screbra as they led her to the edge of the village where the horse was waiting.

It wasn’t a large horse but wasn’t small either. It had a long brown mane, the same color as its coat. There was a simple blanket for a saddle. Launi was used to riding bareback, this would be a nice change. A pair of saddle bags held what she guessed was food. Her heart went out to the people of this village. They had just had a raid and here they were giving her enough food for a two-week journey to find help for a village that was not their own. Launi remembered her father and never was she more grateful for his gifts and kindness than at this moment.

Screbra pulled her a short distance away from the crowd. He guided her, with a grip on her elbow, to turn her back to them.

“Launi, be careful. It is not a good sign that shifters are this far from the cities. Take care and keep your eyes open. Not all is as it seems.”

Launi was puzzled but didn’t have time to ask what his last sentence meant. Before she knew it she was atop the horse and looking back at the crowd. No one was waving. Only sad and worried expressions meant her eyes. Unable to take in any more of their looks, Launi turned to face what was before her and nudged the horse forward.

____________________

She was traveling over the grasslands. The openness of the land, the lack of trees, unnerved Launi. She had lived her entire life in a forest; only occasionally leaving its familiarity. Grassland animals, mainly rodents, birds, and insects, were her only company once she left the village and the surrounding area. The early afternoon sun was bright, the air warm. It was a late-summer day, the kind that comes just before the cold sets in for autumn.

Launi hadn’t been told the horse’s name but decided he needed one.

“I’ll call you Swift.” The name seemed appropriate. She needed to move quickly; he was her way of doing so. “How do you like that?” Swift didn’t respond but continued to walk at a swift pace. Launi decided that was answer enough.

You’re right, we have to focus on the journey ahead. We have a long way to go and so much relies on us convincing the witch to help us.

Later that day when they stopped for a quick evening meal by another stream, Launi took the time to fill the water skin. She hadn’t drunk much but wasn’t sure when they would find another stream and didn’t want to take any chances.

A few rocks worn smooth by years of floods sat by the creek; Launi perched on one. She let Swift’s reins drag on the ground so he wouldn’t wander off. Though, Launi was fairly certain that he wouldn’t even without the reins.

She let her gaze fall over the country around her. They were still surrounded by grass. A few miles after the village, the road she had started on had dwindled to a trail. The grasses out here were much longer, some reaching as high as Launi’s hips. The tall grass made it difficult to see the trail. Launi had taken the map Screbra had given her out a few times while they’d walked to make sure they were going the right way.

Her plan was to continue moving until they reached the forest that, according to the map, was a few hours away. The idea of staying out in the open, in an environment she knew nothing about unsettled her. Launi wanted the familiar sounds and smells of a forest around her before she rested.

Chewing on a couple of strips of dried meat, Launi reached into the bag she had brought with her from home. She had a little food, a water skin of her own (she filled it as well), one set of warm clothes and a blanket. Not much, but that along with the provisions Screbra had given her should be enough to last her for two weeks. She just hoped it wouldn’t be longer.

She pulled all of these things from her bag and placed them on the ground next to her. The bags that Swift had been carrying already had their contents spilled upon the ground.

The last thing Launi pulled from her bag was a silver chain from which hung a pendant. The pendant was a tear drop with a single opal set in the thin metal. Launi placed it in her hand and stared at it for a moment before placing it around her own neck. She hadn’t been wearing it when she and her father had been gathering herbs from fear of losing it. But now that she was out all alone trying to save her entire village from a dark curse that could kill, Launi needed the comfort more than she feared losing it.

She placed a hand over the pendant and whispered quietly to herself.

“I wish you were with me.”

The pendant had been her mother’s.

7 thoughts on “The Healer’s Daughter – Part 6

  1. I took a little break from WordPress while my computer was broken, but I’m really glad I got a chance to catch up with your story! I noticed one of your paragraphs repeated towards the end of this one. Can’t wait to read the next part, this story has me hooked!

    Liked by 1 person

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