Chapter 5    

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When she woke next, she found herself engulfed by thick furs, the blizzard raging through the roughly-hewn stone-and-mud walls of the hut. Roula's home was strewn with weapons of varying shapes and purposes, from ornately carved ceremonial bows wrapped in faintly dyed hide to long, black-bladed knives with bone handles carved to resemble the likenesses of twin serpents, to an enormous broadsword that had what looked like a map of the entire mountain range carved onto its scabbard. She made a mental note to inspect it more closely before she left the village, be it in the spring after snowmelt, or in a calm between the raging storms of winter.

Sitting up, every one of Seraph's numerous injuries blazed to life. She let escape a silent, drawn-out scream before calming herself and setting to work finding her possessions, praying while at it that they had not been rifled through. Sure enough, many of her weapons were gone, and every scrap of her jeweley, though she hadn't owned much. However, both the secret compartments she had added to her satchel, and her two bone knives, appeared untouched. Miraculously, her fingers finally wrapped themselves around the object of her search, an item she could not have dreamed of replacing, were it stolen. The crystals were increasingly becoming smooth and rounded from use, but sharp facets still protruded in places. Inside was a thick, silvery liquid that seemed to move of its own accord. Even she, with a knowledge of potives and herbal configurations unsurpassed by almost any creature, was unsure of the content of the elixer, other than that it did not come from any mortal realm. This was her gift from the gods. Seraph lifted the flap of a miniscule rawhide pouch on the outside of one of her bags, and smeared a dark red substance over both crystals. The liquid within remained the same at first, but as the deer's blood seeped through hidden fissures to the interior, the liquid began to lose its opacity and drip out, into an earthen bowl she had placed on the ground below. It felt sweet and tingly as she drank it, and lessened the pain of her minor wounds within minutes. Her more serious injuries, like her fractured legs, would take months longer to heal completely, but that was a small price to pay for a complete recovery, and far less pain.  Truly, the gods had been kind to her.