I could feel Solen’s eyes on me as he tried to work out the meaning of the Priestess’ words, so I didn’t risk glancing his way, instead focusing diligently on what she was doing with the newly boiled water.
Using an old rag, she retrieved the kettle from the fireplace and poured the steaming liquid through a piece of fine fabric which, I saw, held an assortment of leaves and berries. The water passed through the cloth and dripped into another smaller clay pot below. The scent of the steeping leaves and berries reminded me of rich dark fruitcake and warm sweet honey, and I found my mouth watering again as I watched her divide the liquid into three ornately carved wooden mugs. Setting the pot back down by the hearth she handed one each to Solen and I and lifted her own mug to her nose breathing in the aroma with an appreciative sigh.
It wasn’t until I heard Solen gasp that I realised what was wrong with that picture. I stared down in amazement at the warm mug cradled in my hands, running my thumb across the grain in fascination as my senses exploded with renewed sensation.
My heart was pounding as I carefully lifted the mug up to my waiting lips, all the time expecting the moment to end and the cup to crash to the floor as my new reality asserted itself once more.
It didn’t happen and I tipped a small sip of the brew between my lips, gasping and coughing as it burned its way down my throat.
“Careful dear, it’s still a little hot.” If the Priestess saw the grateful tears welling up in my eyes she didn’t let on. The three of us fell into an almost companionable silence as we sipped at our drinks, and for a few precious minutes let our problems take a welcome rest.
It wasn’t until I was staring into the bottom of my mug that I suddenly wondered if accepting drinks from an almost total stranger was a wise idea. I quickly pushed the thought aside though as I didn’t want to offend the only person who stood any chance of helping me, plus I figured that it was a little late to be worrying about it now. Besides I felt better than I had in days, in part due to just being able to partake in a little normality again and part, I suspected, to the natural medicinal properties contained in the mixture of leaves and berries that the Priestess had used.
I wondered for a moment how it was that any of this was having an effect on me considering that I didn’t actually have a physical body at present. Surely spirits couldn’t heal by decoctions of plants and roots in the same way that the living could?
“A little bit of medicine and a little bit of magic.” She winked at me, which totally obliterated my former ideas on how serious and unemotional the Priestess always appeared. Maybe this was part of the reason that the chosen weren’t allowed to be in contact with the tribe anymore? Because in being so, the people would see through all of the myth and mystery surrounding the post and realise that they are still just ordinary people like anyone else. Well almost anyhow, if you ignore the snake minding, the purple eyes and the mind reading.
“Oh, I’m anything but ordinary I assure you.” She grinned and my throat tightened slightly.
“But, we aren’t here to talk about me, Amara. I’ve been expecting you…” she glanced across at Solen, “…both of you, as it happens. We have much to discuss before the dawn arrives and your true journey begins.”