Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Healer in the wood.

The Mhurni healer carefully made his way along the partially paved path that led to the edge of the forest. As he neared the shady area beneath the trees, he stopped suddenly, stooped briefly and picked a small plant from the side of the path. He studied it for a moment before dropping it carefully into a small ceramic pot, closing the lid and putting it back into the satchel that he had removed it from a few moments before. The Mhurni smiled peacefully for a moment before looking at the tree-line and breathing in the fresh morning air. He briefly looked at the sky with a contented look on his face before continuing along the path into the forest.

The forest was perfect. The sunlight shone through the spring-green leaves and filled all of the open spaces with glorious yellow hues. There was a gentle breeze that carried the scent of a thousand flowers among the trees and the Mhurni felt the healing power of the earth spirit as he slowed his walk along the path so that he could breathe in the glorious morning. He stopped for a moment before opening his satchel and removing a selection of small ceramic pots. He laid a small cotton cloth on the ground and placed the various pots upon it before placing his satchel beside it. The Mhurni patted his pockets before retrieving his pipe and tobacco. He filled the pipe with the specially mixed tobacco and lit the pipe whilst puffing on it to get the air flowing. Moments later he was surrounded by aromatic smoke as he wandered about the clearing studying the herbs and plants that grew there. Occasionally, the Mhurni would pick a few leaves from a plant or pick the cap off a mushroom before returning to the pots to deposit what he had collected. After a short while, his progress slowed to a point where he felt the need to sit down. The tobacco had worked its magic and the glazed look on the Mhurni’s face was testament to the journey he was about to undertake. He breathed heavily on his pipe and watched the smoke swirl and dance in front of his dilated pupils. He hummed deeply and the patterns in the smoke coalesced into the shape of the earth spirit causing him to smile contentedly. The Mhurni sat heavily on the forest floor amongst the leaves and mulch and stared blankly ahead.

Every scent was as potent as smelling salts. Every sound was like the chiming of bells. Every sight was as sharp as looking through a magnifying glass and the slightest breeze sent shivers through the Mhurni’s body. He closed his eyes and reached out with his mind and he found the smiling face of the earth spirit.

Time passed and the light grew dim in the forest. Evening was drawing in and the Mhurni was still sat where he had sat for the better part of the afternoon. Momentarily, his eyes opened and it was plain to see that the soporific effect of his tobacco had worn off as his eyes had returned to normal. He carefully got to his feet and stretched before walking out of the clearing and into the forest. He walked directly to a rather inconspicuous looking plant and pulled it from the ground with its roots intact. He smiled broadly before thanking the earth spirit, returning to his pots and placing the plant carefully into one of them. He did this another couple of times before he was satisfied that all of his pots were full. He tidied everything away and picked up his satchel before kneeling and kissing the ground with spoken thanks to the earth spirit. He then got to his feet and hurried along the path from the forest and back to his home. When he left the forest he was greeted by a party of four Dwarfs and they were all wearing chain-mail and carrying spears and shields. They lived next to the Mhurni village and had become concerned that the healer may have been injured so they had gone to investigate. The Mhurni greeted them cordially before walking past them and off to his dwelling. He looked back and had a quiet chuckle to himself as they tried desperately to keep up with his loping gait. When he returned to his dwelling he raced inside, dropped off his satchel and returned to his doorway with four wooden beakers of fluid for his escort. He had to wait for a moment before they appeared, sweating and breathing heavily at his doorway, before he proffered the drinks in their direction with a bow. The Dwarfs accepted the kindness and drank the cups dry. They knew that a glass of Mhurni brew was as strong and refreshing as many of the Dwarf brewed ales and they were not disappointed. The Mhurni bid them farewell and returned to his satchel. He fished out all of his pots and selected a large mortar from his shelf. Carefully he selected leaves and components from some of his plants and began to mash them into a pulp with a sturdy, granite pestle. He added a small amount of water and poured the contents into a copper pan and placed it onto the hob. He then turned over an hour glass before applying pressure to the power-stone in the oven; creating intense heat beneath the pan.

Later that night, the Mhurni healer left the safety of the village and quietly made his way along the path that led to the Dwarf keep near the base of the mountain. When he arrived he was quickly welcomed inside and ushered to see the ale-man’s daughter. He entered her bedchamber and found her beset by a terrible fever. The Mhurni removed her bed clothes and lifted her nightshirt before laying his hand on her stomach. He hummed deeply and called upon the earth spirit for her blessing before removing his hand and re-covering her. Quickly, he reached into his satchel and withdrew the medicine that he had brewed that day. He selected a small, sweet wafer from a wooden tube that hung on a leather strip around his neck and dipped it into the medicine; soaking up a draft of the medicine in the process. He then opened the girl’s mouth and placed the wafer beneath her tongue before closing her mouth and holding it tightly shut.

The girl shook all over and began to convulse so the Mhurni held her down. Her mother cried out and her father stepped forward before the Mhurni turned to them and reassured them that it was to be expected. Seconds later, the girl became still and her body relaxed. The Mhurni removed his hands and made sure the girl was comfortable before turning to the two Dwarf parents.
“She will be fine in the morning. The earth spirit helped me to select the herbs and told me how to prepare the medicine. She will bear two children for her husband when he is chosen. The earth spirit has made a prophecy that her first born will be a girl and will lead a revolution in the art of sword-craft. The second born is to be a son who will follow in his grandfather’s trade and will be proud to represent the keep at the Leavensbrook Ale Festival” said the Mhurni healer.
“Thank you master healer” said the two parents and they bowed low in appreciation. The father dashed off quickly and returned with a small cask and an even smaller wooden box “for your trouble” said the father.
“It was no trouble but thank you for the generosity” replied the Mhurni and he also bowed low before tasting what was in the cask “you are a master of your trade, master Dwarf” he said. He then opened the small wooden box and inside was an inch-long effigy of the earth mother, made from red-gold and threaded onto an intricately linked, white gold, chain. “You do me the greatest honour... this is the work of George Hendrikson... a fine hobbyist!” said the Mhurni and he bowed again before fastening the pendent around his neck whilst grinning broadly; he was acutely aware of the embarrassment that the Dwarf would have endured to even enter a hobbyists shop. Both the Dwarfs were full of pride at his words and they took his advice to watch their daughter over night to make sure that she was comfortable. They were also warned to listen to her, should the earth spirit speak through their daughter and pass on some wisdom.

Seven years later, the ale-man’s daughter gave birth to a daughter; as the earth spirit had foretold. Two years later a son was born. The daughter went on to find a meteorite in the fields that turned out to contain a mix of metals that combined to make a blade that could shatter iron. The metal was steel and it led to massive innovation in the sword-smith’s art. The son followed in his grandfather’s trade and brought great renown to his family through his skill at brewing.

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