Kressara breathed deeply of the cool, crisp air as her feet crunched through the two-day old snow. The sun made the white woods sparkle. The stress slipped from Kressara’s shoulders as she enjoyed her favorite time of year. She loved walking in the woods after a snowfall. Everything appeared fresh and clean.
A step around a curve in the trail and her shoulders tensed again. Red drops on the ground. Kressara bent down to examine them. There were many, leaving a trail in the blanket of white — blood. Kressara’s heart beat faster. Dare she follow the crimson pathway? Would she find someone or something in need of help or would she find danger? Should she turn around and enlist Drophar’s help?
Her left hand grasped the hilt of the sword at her side as her right hand felt for the dagger strapped to her leg. She would go on.
As she followed the blood trail, the drops became puddles and she knew she should come upon a creature soon. It was obviously slowing down and having to stop to rest as its body weakened.
Kressara picked up her pace, then her eyes spotted a crumpled heap lying in the snow a few yards ahead. She slowed again, approaching with caution.
“Oh!” A cry escaped her. She bent and checked the young faun for a heartbeat. It’s heart still beat faintly, a crimson pool by its side. She scooped the faun up and ran back to the village.
Kressara didn’t pause to knock on Brynhilde’s door. The old woman gasped as the door of her hut flew open.
Kressara lay the young faun on a pallet on the floor. “You must act quickly, Brynhilde. His heart beat is fading.”
Brynhilde examined the gaping wound in the faun’s side. “Someone has pierced him with a spear. One of his lungs has a slight puncture. He has lost a lot of blood.”
She began pulling bowls and bottles off a shelf and mixing powders with some liquids. She poured a liquid on a rag and cleaned around the wound. She thread a needle with goat hair and sewed the puncture in the lung, then re-threaded the needle and closed the hole in the faun’s side.
“Sit with him while I make some gruel. He will need nourishment if he is to survive.”
A loud knock sounded at Brynhilde’s door. “Come in,” called the old woman.
Drophar entered. “Kressara, where have you been? I have been looking for you.”
“I was walking in the woods when I found a trail of blood that led me to this young faun.”
Drophar bent down for a closer look at the faun. The hair on its head was ebony, while the hair on its legs was brown. It had antlers that were about three inches long. It’s skin was pale from the loss of blood, but it was flawless and its lips were full.
“This is a descendant of Greshot. Where did you find him?” His eyes searched Kressara’s face.
“In the woods about a mile from here.”
Drophar knit his brow.
“What’s wrong?” Kressara’s heartbeat quickened.
“Greshot’s people have recently been attacked by the centaurs. If the centaurs find out that we have helped a faun, our village could be in danger.”
Kressara’s eyes grew rounder. “But, surely you didn’t expect me to leave him lying in the woods to die?”
“No, of course not. I will send Asden to inform Greshot that one of his offspring is with us.”
After three days of Brynhilde administering medicinal poultices and slowly pouring gruel down his throat, the young faun regained consciousness. He sat up, curled up in a corner. His eyes grew large and flitted from one area of the hut to another.
“It’s okay. You’re safe here.” Brynhilde spoke gently.
The faun put his hand to his bandaged side.
“Do you remember what happened?” Brynhilde questioned.
The faun nodded, just as Kressara entered the hut.
“You’re awake! How are you feeling?” She smiled and slowly approached the frightened faun.
As she drew closer, the faun sniffed the air. This woman smelled of pine and spice. He liked her scent. It seemed familiar. He felt safe in her presence.
Kressara sensed his hesitation. “No one here will harm you. I found you in the woods. I brought you here so that Brynhilde could care for your wound.”
He smiled at this woman. She was beautiful with hair like fire, skin like cream and lips like pink rose petals. “Thank you for saving me.”
She put her hand to his forehead. “Your fever is gone. Are you one of Greshot’s people?”
The young faun puffed out his chest. “I am Greshot’s oldest son.”
“I will bring him to see you.” Kressara exited the hut.
She returned a few minutes later with a man, who was unfamiliar to the young faun, and Greshot.
“Father!” The faun arose, swayed a bit and toppled into his father’s arms.
Greshot looked first at Kressara and then at Brynhilde. “Thank you both so much. I can never repay what you have done for Tappak. You have given his life back to him and restored him to me. If you ever need anything, you need only ask and I will provide for you.”
With that, he picked his son up in his arms and carried him out of the hut.
Drophar rubbed the back of his hand down Kressara’s cheek and then followed Greshot from the hut.