The air was damp and cool as Awyn moved through the meadow. Like many other mornings, he paused by the river to take a moment to breathe and let the negative energies wash away with the current.
He rose from the riverside, before moving on to pick fresh herbs and plants for the day. As he walked, he took in the soft morning sunrise, letting the light streak across his pale skin and fill him with energy. His walk followed the usual route he took, picking only what he needed for a day of brewing and casting.
As he made his way back towards the forest which contained his isolated home, he saw another figure close to the edge of the wood. An odd but not rare occurrence, Awyn often encountered humans from local villages, but they swiftly forgot him or continued on their journeys not giving him much thought.
But this person seemed to be quite adamant on standing by the forest. As Awyn neared them, he saw it was a young woman. She was kneeling in the grass, and as soon as he reached her, Awyn saw the blood flowing from her abdomen.
“Oh…shit. C’mon you.” He scooped her body up into his arm, rushing through the thick forest to his home.
He kicked the door to his cottage open, sweeping his desk clear to lay the woman on the surface. Books, candles and an assortment of dried ingredients fell to the floor. But he ignored most of them as he turned to his mortar and pestle. He ground the fresh herbs he had picked, making a salve to apply to the woman’s wounds.
Drawing his knife, he cut her clothes open to give him direct access to her injury. He applied the salve, tearing fresh bandages to lay on top, before collapsing into his desk chair. He exhaled slowly, before noticing the mess on the floor.
“Fuck…” he groaned as he reached across the woman to grab his spellbook from the desk. He flipped through the old pages, searching for an incantation to help him fix his current situation.
When he finally found what he was looking for, he glanced around the room for his candles, snatching the correct one off the floor and lighting it, whispering the enchantment on his pages.
The scattered objects across the room gathered themselves up and moved to an arranged position on the empty shelves next to Awyn’s desk. He shut the spellbook, placing it in his satchel that he tossed to his bed, before checking the woman resting on his desk.
Her face was pale, skin clammy and cool. She had definitely lost quite a bit of blood, and Awyn couldn’t be sure how long she had been outside. He took a cloth from his freshly cleaned pile and dipped it in the bucket of water he had collected early that morning.
Nightmares had kept him awake, so his daily water run had happened long before sunrise. Usually he could push it off until after he had done his round of the valley. He soaked the rag in the cool water, dabbing it across the woman’s face as he thought about his morning.
A restless night meant he was already much more exhausted than normal, and it didn’t help that his familiar Saturn had been missing for the last few days. The cat always helped him sleep, and protected him from the nightmares that always filled his mind when he was alone.
The dark thoughts still swirled in his head, and he collapsed on his bed trying to exorcise the thoughts from his mind. Eventually, he managed to slowly inhale and exhale, letting his mind clear as he opened his eyes and gazed at the ceiling.
His cottage was small, one large room that contained everything he needed to survive. He had considered expanding on several occasions, but the minimal space and storage forced him to use and practice with only what he required.
He had no space for guests, so his hope was this woman could heal and leave soon, or else he’d be sleeping outside in the leaves. She stirred on the desk as he pondered this, and his attention quickly turned back to her.
“Ow…” she muttered, attempting to sit up before wincing in pain and pressing a hand to her bandages.
“Don’t touch them!” Awyn hissed, rushing forward to pull her hand off her abdomen.
“Who are you?” she asked, her eyes hazy with pain and sleep.
“No one of consequence.” Awyn grumbled, his hands working quickly to undo the bandages and check her wounds.
“I could have died in that field…”
“Yes, you very well could have. What idiot runs for the forest instead of the village?”
“Someone looking for elves.” Her voice was soft, almost haunting to Awyn.
“Elves won’t see you, they barely see me.”
“Please,” she grabbed his arm, “I must see them. For my brother.”
Awyn let out a sigh, the woman staring him down.
“When you’re healed, I will bring one here to speak with you.”
“Thank you…” she smiled, leaning back on the table and letting him work. “I’m Helena, of the Venhall family.”
Awyn’s movements stopped for a moment, but quickly resumed so as not to cause alarm to the woman. She need not know that he no longer had any intention of helping her.
“You should not have fled to the woods with that name my lady.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Your family has been trying to kill the elves for a long while. You have trespassed on their territory. If they find you, the sentence will be nothing short of death.”
“No…I…that’s not true.”
“I have watched it happen long enough to know that it is. Now,” Awyn finished redressing her wound, “I will return. You stay here inside the cabin. If someone knocks, don’t answer.”
She nodded, and Awyn grabbed his satchel from the bedpost. He left without another word, sealing the door with an incantation barely escaping his lips. He had to get to the bottom of all this before it was too late.
To be continued….