Horribilis, Pt. 8

With a sweeping gesture towards the cabinet, Anya stepped aside from the younger girl’s path. Chana stepped forward and carefully considered her options. “Why, Anya. Did you remove the labels from everything so that this would be more of a challenge for me.”

Anya snorted. “Don’t flatter yourself, child. How could I have known you were coming? I just don’t label the things I use all the time. So few of our people can read that there’d be no sense in it.”

“But you put symbols on things so you can describe them to the others. Bones, stars, water, animals. I’ve seen them.”

Anya laughed softly. “I suppose I might have intended to test you and so directed you towards my private supplies. Get to work, child. You’re wasting time.”

Chana nodded and after a moment’s hesitation, turned to the pitcher of water Anya kept in the room. “The first thing she must do,” she could hear Anya’s voice in her head from years before telling her, “was to clean the wound.” She flushed it with water, letting the dirty, bloody mix run down her face and into a bowl to be thrown out later.

She then returned to the cabinet and opened a box full of clean rags, wiped her wound and her face dry. Those would have to be burned later, but that was a task for when the work was done.

She pulled a bottle of clear liquid from the shelf, unstoppered it, and sniffed. It smelled like Kayla’s still that she used to turn fruits and grain into firewater but stronger. She poured some onto another rag and wiped the wound once more, hissing as the liquid stung her like an angry insect.

Finally, she selected a long, thin rag and wrapped it around her head, tying it off with a knot so that it was firm but not painfully so. She turned to the older woman and grinned. “So simple a child could do it. I don’t know why we don’t get the children to do your job.”

Anya laughed. “Because no mother wants to see her daughter become a ‘witch.’”

“If you’re a witch, I’m a princess.”

Anya’s eyes sparkled at that, and a slow smile crept across her face. “Oh, you are, child. Just not the kind our people expect you to be.”


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