(Part 27) For a complete list of this series, please go here.
Aerissa sat at the table for a few more moments after Apothecary Thedra left. Silently she cleared away her breakfast dishes and prepared to head back into the woods.
The thought hit her hard, bringing tears to her eyes. She bit her lip, looking upwards, not allowing the tears to flow freely. Grabbing her gear, she headed out. She knew she needed to bring back enough plagued blood samples today for the serum. Locke was running out of time.
The woods seemed quieter today to Aerissa. Maybe they mourn his loss too? She shook her head at her thoughts, knowing it was not logical. Aerissa eyed the trees and ground, watching for glowing eyes and tracks. So far, nothing was presenting itself, then again, it was early in the day. Despite the lack of sunlight within the woods of the Ghostlands during the day, these creatures still preferred the cover of nightfall.
After a few hours, Aerissa reached the area where she had found Locke. The dirt was still a flurry of tracks. Tufts of blood stained fur littered the ground where he had lain. An incredible stench filled her nostrils, making her eyes sting. Coughing, Aerissa lifted her shirt to cover her mouth and nose, but it did little to combat the smell. Turning quickly, Aerissa doubled over and vomited onto the dead grass. Grasping her knees, she gagged, dry heaving as she spat the last of the vomit from her mouth. Aerissa wiped away the wetness from her eyes with the heel of her hand as she straightened up.
“Yuck.” She spat on the ground again, wiping at her face.
Aerissa covered her nose with her shirt again before turning back to the source of the decomposition. It was the carcass of the lynx that attacked Locke and had tried to attack her when she came to Locke's aid. Aerissa believed it was the source of Locke's infection. She hoped it was anyway, otherwise how would have he gotten the plague? She also hoped it would allow her to gather enough blood for the serum so that she wouldn't have to hunt alone.
Her mind flashed a memory of her crying as a child, alone. She also thought of Locke bringing her the rabbits while she swam.
She hated being alone.
Aerissa waved her hands at the carcass, but was surprised at the lack of insects inhabiting it. She knelt down beside it, withdrawing her dagger and the vial. She cut along the side and shoved the vial against it's side. She waited, but there was no blood flow. A couple thick drops slid down the inside lip of the vial. Puzzled, Aerissa cut into the carcass a few more times with similar results. Furious, Aerissa began hacking indiscriminately at the carcass. The bones snapped like twigs. The carcass was nothing but a husk of what the lynx once was.
Aerissa leaned back, resting upon her legs. She threw her dagger at the ground, the blade piercing the dirt near the carcass. “Why couldn't this be the supply? Why?” she cried out, looking up into the sky.
A piercing shriek cut through the air, snapping Aerissa back to attention. A medium sized winged creature was flitting through the trees overhead and darted off to the left. Aerissa followed the erratic movements as she readied her bow. She shot three arrows quickly into the treebranches. The arrows hit their mark, the creature crashing through the branches to the ground.
Aerissa trotted over, another arrow notched on her bow just in case. Spotting the tails of the arrows sticking up, she cautiously approached the writhing creature. The bat shrieked again, flapping its wings forcefully, but one had been ripped by an arrow. Aerissa gasped at the grotesqueness of the bat. It's eyes were wild, frantic. It's mouth wide open with each shriek, revealing vampiric fangs. Aerissa shuddered and shot a final arrow into its chest.
The bat stopped moving and Aerissa quickly milked its blood into the vial, hoping she was guessing right about it being plagued. It seemed most living (and unliving) things in these woods were plagued. She capped the vial and held it before her. It wasn't even half full yet. She would have to hunt a few more creatures before she could consider returning to Tranquillien.
Shortly before nightfall, Aerissa wearily returned to Tranquillien. She was dirty, covered in blood, sweat, and grime. The smell of death permeated from her, although the Forsaken inhabitants took no notice of this. She reached the apothecary lab, short of breath.
“What isss it?” hissed Thedra, hearing someone enter, but not turning around. She was busy mixing, pouring, and mixing some more amongst beakers and vials.
Aerissa looked around in wonder. There were so many containers strewn about the lab. Something bubbled before Thedra as she held the vial above a candle.
“I…have the…samples,” Aerissa panted, struggling to catch her breath.
Thedra spun about, gliding over to Aerissa. She reached out, making a grabbing motion in the air. Aerissa removed the vial from her sidepack. It was filled nearly to the top with dark blood. Thedra snatched it from Aerissa's hand. Uncapping it, she raised it to her nose, nodding approvingly.
“Give me time to brew the ssserum. There isss much to be done. Much more to be done, yesss.” Thedra's robes swished about as she turned to the left, heading for yet another lab table. She began dropping the blood into different tubes and beakers, pouring, mixing and measuring, oblivious to Aerissa still standing there.
“W-when will it be ready?” Aerissa watched the apothecary work, her eyes full of hope.
“Sssoon. Morning. It needsss to cook,” she said without turning away from her work.
Aerissa nodded, her eyelids feeling heavy. She slowly backed out of the lab and plodded towards the Inn. Her body ached from tracking and hunting bats and lynxes. She'd found a couple small, scrawny lynxes that looked to be plagued. They also looked to be starving and did not go down easily. Without Locke's help, Aerissa had to make use of her fancy footwork. Today's hunting involved a lot of running, making her prey chase her as she fired arrows into their chest and neck. There were also a few that she had to outrun until they lost interest in chasing her, as they were too difficult for her to take down alone.
As Aerissa walked into the Inn, she thought about taking a nice, hot bath. Yawning, she glanced at the couch in the common area. She headed straight for it, falling asleep as soon as her head hit the cushion.
* * *
Join the newsletter
Subscribe to get family gaming tips, reviews and our latest content by email.