Sacrifice, a word that many know but choose to ignore when the time comes. All of Karlithen life has been a sacrifice, from her early upbringing and through on to adulthood. She has sacrifices for the good of the many, she has sacrifices for her gods, and she has sacrificed everything without anyone ever knowing. If not for the shed tears, the broken heart, and the wounded soul these sacrifices would go unclaimed….
Several days after leaving the meeting at the army encampment Karlithen was still getting treatment from a local healer named Grizmant. This older lady used natural spirits and natural remedies to perform the resuscitation that Karlithen’s body needed and Karlithen liked it that way. Not having to deal with the clergy constantly trying to convert her while performing their healing was something that Karlithen enjoyed about having Grizmant around. Besides the healer was very attentive to all of Karlithen’s needs.
The healer’s place was just a small building on the outskirts of Hawks Hollow, a place you would hardly notice except for the sign that was located outside to inform those that passed by what this place was. An old creaky wood sign swinging in the breeze that said Grizmant’s Wardings – the finest natural healings in Hawk’s Hollow. Anyone within fifty yards could smell the herbs and therapeutic plants that Grizmant used to perform her healing and to Karlithen this place was like a second home. At least to Karlithen the places smelled wonderful, anytime she was traveling near this place she was sure to stop in. Even if she didn’t need the healing she stopped in to talk with Grizmant and find out all of the local gossip. Who was cheating on who, which merchant was stealing from which, and which of the local barons was looking for a wife. Those were the constant chatters from Grizmant, and although they sometimes annoyed her Karlithen liked to hear the stories.
Although Karlithen was in this healers place this time more because she needed the healing then to catch up on the local scandals. She was laying face down on four large flat stones that were heated to just the right temperature. Karlithen’s naked body allowed the stones to caress her body while the healer dipped different rags into the boiling kettle and then place them on the injured parts of Karlithen’s body. Occasionally the healer would grind some root or flower in a bowl and then sprinkle that into the wounds. Most of the time the burning sensation went away after just a few seconds and Karlithen knew the healing was doing the job. For the last several days most of Karlithen’s body was covered with these healing rags but that was to be expected after a long mission. Many times Karlithen made it to this place and many times it would take a week or so before Karlithen was all better. It took so much more time to heal this way but Karlithen enjoyed the time away and besides she wasn’t so eager on asking the gods for healing time after time. She always felt that if you ask enough times then one time the gods will ask for something in return.
“My god child, what the hell did you get yourself into this time?”, Grizmant asked knowing that she wouldn’t receive an answer. “Three days of this and I still can’t believe the marks on your back are still there. Whoever whipped you certainly enjoyed what they were doing.”
“Never you mind that”, Karlithen replied. “Just make me all better like you always do.”
“Well, every time I see you it keeps getting harder and harder.”
Karlithen just smiled and lifted her head up just enough to look at the healer, “Grizmant I love what you do to me.” With her eyes still fixated on the old woman she saw her smile.
“Girl if I had your body there is no way I would be running around for the army, you are much too beautiful for that job. You need to find your self a good prince and settled down, let someone else take care of you for awhile”, Grizmant said with a chuckle. “I’m sure there are some very rich merchants or barons looking for a lovely lady such as yourself but you certainly aren’t going to find them while you’re out playing soldier.”
“What would you have me do hang out in the bars like all the other tramps?” Karlithen replied.
“Certainly not, you are beautiful enough that you just need to walk down the street and all the men turned their heads to watch you. You have what all the other girls wish they had.”
Karlithen just yawned and rolled over to place her back upon the heated stones, the last three days have been so quiet and peaceful Karlithen almost felt relaxed. She could just stay here laying upon these healing stones, listening to Grizmant talking about how wonderful she was forever. The wonderful aroma in the air was penetrating into her skin replacing the travelers stench that she’s lived with for the last couple months. She was finally beginning to smell like a beautiful woman again and she drew in a deep breath to have her lungs be caressed as well.
She closed her eyes and dreamt of a better place thinking about what Grizmant said, maybe it was time for her to leave the army and find a rich man to take care of her. Exactly what has the last five years gained her? A lot of trouble, a lot of pain and suffering, and a lot of bad memories. And what does she have to show for it? Nothing but a few scars that won’t heal and a lot of shed tears. Maybe that’s why she came here after all, to seek some of Grizmant wisdom and convince herself that she was done with the army. How many times has she wished the last three months could just disappear along with the nightmares now haunt her. Someday she will leave the army, is that day today? Maybe she thinks.
Grizmant had washed out a few rags in a water bucket as Karlithen was daydreaming and was now dipping them in the kettle of healing solution that bubbled over a small fire. She took her time slowly dipping the rags in just the right place so as to get just enough of the herbs to attach to the rag without overloading it. When she was satisfied with the results she brought the rags over and knelt next to Karlithen.
“These will be little hotter than the last, but not hot enough to burn your skin”, Grizmant warned Karlithen. Grizmant folded the rags three times over on itself until it was the correct size and placed one on Karlithen’s left leg and the second on her upper chest above her breasts. Karlithen watched the old woman perform this ritual over and over again but was amazed at the attention to detail Grizmant used each time.
After a deep breath Karlithen says “how do you always get the perfect temperature each and every time?”
Grizmant laughs, “how do you know where to stab and enemy so that his armor cannot protect him?” She smiles and continues, “it’s just something we know.”
Grizmant took her hands and now performed the massaging part of the cure, she would start at the feet and continue until she reached the neck. Most of the time she would use a hardened sponge to help this process but being the third day in a row this process was used on Karlithen that wasn’t needed and Grizmant used her hands instead. Karlithen just closed her eyes and let the healer do her job. Karlithen could feel the ladies fingers gliding along her skin, pushing and manipulating her muscles until all the tension was relieved. Her long muscular legs suddenly felt calm and relaxed by the time Grizmant finished with them. Her hands were like that of a musician and Karlithen’s body was the flute she was playing upon. After completing her legs Grizmant started massaging Karlithen’s hips and stomach all the while Karlithen just laid there enjoying the relaxation. After working on her mid section for awhile Grizmant pulled her hands back and stopped what she was doing.
“I’m sorry what I said earlier madam, I was out of place.” Grizmant stated.
“Sorry about what?” Karlithen replied.
“About you needing to find a man and all, it was just idol chitchat, I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Of course not Grizmant, I know that.” Karlithen answered. She leaned her head up to look at Grizmant and noticed her looking strangely at Karlithen. “Your starting to worry me now with that look, what’s wrong? You won’t be getting the usual tip if you don’t cut that out now.” Seeing that Grizmant didn’t change her look or behavior and seamed to be looking intently at her, Karlithen sat up and looked at her.
“What in the gods name has gotten into you Grizmant? Karlithen asked with a slightly perturbed attitude. “Why have you stopped?”
“My God, you don’t know, do you?” Grizmant replied as she stared into Karlithen’s eyes.
“Never mind, it’s not my business anyways.” Grizmant said while shaking her head to clear her senses and started to place her hands back on Karlithen.
Karlithen’s hands grabbed Grizmant’s and stopped her. “If you know something then speak women, if you wish me to come back. I consider you my friend so don’t keep something from me. If you know something then tell me.”
“Well if I must, but remember you made me tell.” After a short paused Grizmant said, “Your pregnant. You have a child inside of you.”
Karlithen laid back down on the stones and closed her eyes so that she couldn’t see Grizmant anymore, “Curse the Gods I was afraid of that.” she whispered. “Now you’ve gone and done it Karlithen…” she said as the tears started rolled down her cheeks….