Chapter 1

A cry rose from the depths of the forest, inhuman and shrill; like that of sword and claw dragging excruciatingly against the other, terror to hear, terror to behold.

Arriana quietly tied the knots of dried basil nets into place, hanging from the rafters with a loose bow thread. Her hands shook once, twice, and with an inhale stilled. She would perform her prayers, and then lie to sleep.

No sound from the forest, all unmoving and silent.

She regarded the view from the north window: all cloaked in shadow and mossy green, tall trees rising high till they brushed the moon, gnarled trunks, and twisted exposed roots, a thunderous, expansive form, reminiscent of ancient dragons - All it needs is a fierce red eye, and the picture would be complete.

The thought floats in and floats out, as they often do, she does not have time to dwell on much come Spring and Summer- both seasons heralding a mass frenzy of activity for the Apothecary; of sowing and harvesting, drying, and boiling- all in preparation for the Winter cold- the village of Sawn depended upon it.

The tinkling chink of ceramic makes her turn around, Grandma drinking tea, sitting on the only creaky, wooden chair, draped by one cotton sheet, and wool-stuffed cushion- two thin layers of comfort to a harsh surface.

"You mustn't forget the Rosemary." Slow and deliberate, Grandma takes another sip.

Arianna nods, rosemary was an important herb to have at hand, she had already harvested some last week, but it needed a little longer for her to repeat the process. "I checked on it today, been growing steady, should be ready to cut by Saturday noon."

A silent nod in return, sharp eye studying her form, "You should've gone with them."

Simple statement, yet the most complex feelings of longing, despair, and hope arise, Arianna had always wanted to go- wanted to find more, the new pox that is being whispered in hushed tones from outside travellers, the chance to build the family books on medicine (long since memorised by her) the yearning to see, smell, and hear the plants in the Northern lands.

She turns away, hands finding industry in tidying up the work table, while the mind forcefully wanders away. "It was not to be."

It is a lie, she did not want it to be. Grandma was the only family left, the only one she had in the world, Arianna would not abandon her, not when Death's visit was so uncertain.

She was young yet, just of age to travel- she would get chances in time. And if not? came the whisper, mocking and quick.

Then what is to be, will be. She repeated to her heart, firm and unyielding.

"We make it be, by moving or still." Notes Grandma sagely, an unintended reply to her thoughts.

Arianna does not comment, and instead moves to refill her cup, smiling warmly into the crinkled, aged face. A kiss on the cheek, and she bids her goodnight, tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow strikes like lightning upon them, a charged, powerful shot no one can escape.

—-

Hello all- this will be updated regularly (hopefully) as I intend to use it for practice purposes in order to hone my writing skills.

I would appreciate any feedback or points of improvement from veteran readers, thank you in advance!

Olde