Asphodel stumbled as she landed in the covered wagon. She lay breathing heavily for a few moments, then she heard a voice and a hand lifted her up.
'You just made it,' said a melodious female voice. 'A few more seconds and you'd have missed us.'
Asphodel looked at the woman who had helped her up and onto a seat. She was wearing white robes tied with a green sash. Asphodel knew this indicated the woman was a vicar and a cleric of Sylissa, the goddess of healing. The woman looked around forty years old and had a few grey hairs just beginning to appear in her dark hair. Her brown eyes had small laughter lines around them and she smiled at Asphodel.
'Thank you for your help,' the elf said. 'It might sound like an odd question, but where is this caravan going to?'
The cleric raised her eyebrows, then replied, 'To Bluehaven ultimately. We pass through a number of other towns though. First we go through several small villages in Erian before we get to the border with Grosmer. There aren't any large towns between Frelli and Grosmer.'
The vicar leaned back in her seat and then asked, 'Where are you going?'
Asphodel sighed. 'Wherever my coin will take me,' she said.
The vicar frowned. 'Running away? What have you done, or who are you running away from?'
Asphodel closed her eyes foe a moment, then opened them and looked straight at her companion.
'I've not done anything. It's what he did.'
The vicar said nothing, but continued to look at Asphodel.
Asphodel paused, then it all came out in a rush. She told the whole story from meeting Vass to him hitting her. Then her eyes filled with tears and she looked away.
The other woman moved across to sit next to the girl. she put her arm around her and said, 'You made a mistake, yes, but we all make mistakes, especially when young. How much did you give the caravan leader?'
When Asphodel told her, she tutted. 'That won't even get you to the border,' she said.
'But Vass saw which caravan I was on. He'll get the next one and come after me, I know it.' Her eyes darted around the wagon as though expecting to see Vass jump out from behind the cloth roof.
The cleric patted her hand. 'Don't worry about than for now,' she said. 'We'll sort something out. The next caravan in this direction isn't for a couple of days. By the way, my name's Trinelli.'
'Asphodel,' replied the elf, not giving her full name as she knew the human woman would have difficulty in pronouncing it.
The caravan stopped for a meal at midday. While they were eating, a man came running up to them.
'Vicar,' he shouted as he approached, 'vicar, please will you come to look at my wife. She's sick.'
Trinelli stood up. 'What seems to be the matter?' she asked.
'She's vomiting and says she feels dizzy,' he said. 'She says that whenever she moves, it feels as if the world is spinning around her.'
Trinelli followed the man to a wagon and went inside. Out of curiosity, Asphodel followed. She stood in the entrance to the covered wagon and watched as Trinelli placed her hands on the woman and prayed to Sylissa.
The cleric's head slumped forward. Asphodel watched as the sick woman's colour began to return. Trinelli, at the same time, became paler. Asphodel almost thought she could see something flowing from Trinelli to the woman, but then she decided she was imagining it.
When they left the wagon, and received the man's grateful thanks, Asphodel had to support Trinelli back to their wagon. The older woman rested for a while, then, as the wagons began to move once more, she seemed to be back to her normal self.
'What happened there?' Asphodel asked her.
'Well. I prayed to Sylissa. She used me as a conduit to send her healing power into the woman.'
'But it was more than that, wasn't it?'
'Yes. When I--or any of us--heals someone, the goddess sends her power, but it also takes some of our life essence to work. That's why we're always tired after healing.'
'I thought I saw something going from you to her,' Asphodel said. 'I couldn't have, though, could I? What you give her is invisible.'
Trinelli looked sharply at the young elf. She frowned,
'You shouldn't have been able to see anything,' she told her, and she shook her head. 'I don't know what this means, but I need to think about it.'
The caravan stopped for the night. The caravan leader came to Asphodel and told her that her money had only given her passage to the next village. The girl looked frightened.
'I have this ring.' She reluctantly held out the ring she had picked up before leaving. 'It was my grandmother's. I think it's valuable.'
Trinelli turned to the caravan leader.
'You can't take her grandmother's ring,' she scolded him. 'It's valuable enough to take her to Bluehaven and half-way back again.'
'Well, she can't have free passage.' He shrugged. 'She has nothing else. Seems it's the ring or she leaves next stop.'
Trinelli fumbled in her purse and withdrew several gold crowns and a sovereign, which she handed over to the man/
'Here. This should pay her fare to Bluehaven.'
The man took the coins and left.
'I can't let you pay for me,' Asphodel protested. 'That's a lot of money. When we get to a town, I'll sell my ring and pay you back, I promise.'
Trinelli smiled at the young girl.
'You'll do no such thing. If you want to pay me back you can help me when I go to heal people. People are always getting sick or hurt on these journeys. Your help will be worth more to me than coin. I'm going to Bluehaven, to the temple there, so I paid enough for you to get there too.'
Has Asphodel has found a means to get far enough away from Vass? How can she help a healer? She's been brought up as one of the privileged classes in Elven society. How can she help a healer when she has no idea of healing?
To find out more about Asphodel's later adventures, read The Wolves of Vimar Series.
Here are the links.