Thursday, November 13, 2014

Online Novel Chapter 8 - Cleaning Solution

"If we can't stop the hemorrhaging, he won't survive much longer."

Kurt's pronouncement was bleak, but looking at Assissi, they could all tell it was true.  The point of the arrow did enough damage upon entry into his shoulder, but the wound showed far more than simple carnage brought on by an arrow.  The weapon had been coated in something, and the poison was causing a reaction the likes of which none of them had ever seen.

"You're a healer," Lisa noted.  "You've healed far worse among us while playing the game."

"That was a fucking game!" Kurt retorted.  "I'm not a damn healer, I've never been to medical school, and you all know that the sight of blood makes me nauseous."

Sun was just beginning to break over the horizon.  It took more than two hours for them to lose the goblins who'd given chase, and they were now holed up in a cluster of rocks and scraggly trees several miles outside of town.

Assissi's arm was drenched in red, and black lines ran from the wound across his shoulder and chest.  The priest had yet to regain consciousness, and no one could tell if his sweat was due to fever or the exhaustion of running from the goblins.

"We're going to figure something out," said Varagorn.  "We didn't get sent here to die - I won't let it happen."

"What are you going to do about it?" Pat asked.

Before the argument could begin in earnest, Dan shuddered and closed his eyes.  When he opened them again, his face held a dreamy look.

"Potions and wonders abound in the forest.  A shadowy witch has the means to cure Assissi's wounds, but the price may be high.  You must bring her both the ingredients and the price, but beware her vile treachery, for actions speak louder than her words."

It took a second for the group to realize Dan had slipped back into his role as Storyteller.  Finally, Ray said, "Where can we find her, and what ingredients does she need?"

"She's to the east, in an uncharted canyon.  You'll know it because it is in darkness except when the sun makes its final descent.  Follow the light to her darkness."  He shuddered again, shook his head, and looked back up.  When he did, the dreamy quality on his face was gone.  "What the hell just happened?"

"I'm guessing that your role here has just been identified," Lisa said.

Varagorn jumped to his feet.  "What are we waiting for?  We need to head east and find that cure or Assissi will die."

"I counsel patience," Ray said.  "All we know is that she's to the east, and we don't know what she'll want.  If we go barging in there, we may lose our only chance."

The bickered for another ten minutes before deciding that Lisa and Dan would stay behind to watch over Assissi.  It was mid-morning before they mounted their steeds and headed east.

Varagorn wanted to charge straight ahead, but it was Pat that suggested they find a mountain to get a good look from.  As fortune would have it, there was one close by, and a few tiny paths littered the mountainside and led to the summit.

Pat smiled.  "Back at school, this wouldn't be a mountain.  It might be called a knob or some such."

"It fits for what we want," said Ray.  Looking out across the broad landscape, he said, "We can see for miles up here."

"Yet there are two canyons that might fit the bill," said Varagorn.  "We can't look at both and get back before Assissi dies.  Which one do we choose?"

"We could split up," Kurt suggested.

But Varagorn was firm.  "No.  We don't know the area well enough.  Our strength and diversity are out only shots at this."

"I think I can figure it out," Ray said.  Without waiting for permission, he grew a large fireball in his right hand and hurled it at one of the canyons.  He then repeated the exercise and hurled it at the other.

The ball of flame broke open over the first canyon's entrance, but it split open and died, showering the landscape in sparks.  The second fireball, however, split the entrance and flooded the area, lighting up shadows that looked like they rarely saw the sun.

"That's the one," Ray said.

Varagorn spurred his horse without waiting for the others.  Dust kicked up from its hooves and the others followed shortly behind.  Although they could see the canyon from the mountain, it still took several hours to ride there.  When they finally got there, it was mid-afternoon.  Their horses hesitated as they breeched the canyon.

Hidden deep against one of the canyon walls was a stone hut, little more than a hovel.  A thin wisp of smoke flittered from a small chimney in the outcropping.  They dismounted and headed over.

Varagorn unsheathed his sword, but Ray grabbed his arm.  "We're here to talk first."

"If she won't help, I'll makae her help."

"We have no idea who or what we're dealing with.  Let's see that first."

Reluctantly, Varagorn re-sheathed his weapon, and Ray put up a fist to pound on the door.  But before he could knock, the door swung open.

A withered old lady in a rocking chair and gray shawl smiled at them from across the room.  "I saw you coming, my dears.  How are you?"

There was an awkward silence at first.  Finally Ray spoke.  "We've come because we've heard of your healing powers.  Our friend has been shot with a goblin arrow, and we can't heal the wound.  Can you help us."

She smirked.  Leaning forward, she said, "Of course I can.  I have the alamite and chrysanthemum blossoms required.  All I need is the purest water from the spring inside the mountain you've just left."

"So, if we bring you that, you'll help us?"

"Of course."  She leaned back, and then, almost as an afterthought, she said, "Of course, I would like to be paid."

"We have money," Varagorn offered.

"Oh no, my child," she chuckled.  "Money doesn't interest me the same way hard to come by items do."

They looked at each other before Ray asked, "What kind of hard to come by items?"

"Several of my potions are lacking in purity, the kind of purity only a pure creature begets.  On that same mountain roams a herd of unicorn.  Bring me one of their horns, and you shall have your potion.  I advise you to be quick, for if it was indeed a goblin arrow that injured your companion, then you haven't much time to waste."

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