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[personal profile] icewinds
Perhaps it is the purifications that I have been subjected to, or the prayer-fast. I cannot stop myself from looking at the box that holds the Talisman. When I turn to the Journal that is supposed to reveal my hidden secrets, lessening the chance that I will burn ... it is almost as though I could feel the casket that holds it looking at me.

It cannot be the power of the amulet itself. The box is warded to prevent the magic leaching through, insulated ... or is, it perhaps, that the box is open..? I touch it to test, and it is open now.

The stone seems to gather light to it - or is it amber? It is warm to my touch. I cannot judge by the weight; the setting has bulk. Lifting it reveals the scroll beneath...

I need to cast something - but that invocation is to be said in due time, and so I reach to the prayer-fire and whisper,

Rain, mist, sleet and snow,
guide my feet where they must go,
wind, rain, storm and sea,
bring the ones I seek near me...

Then I turned back to the Journal, bending wearily to my task of remembering.

My childhood, Chapter four,

I know now that it was a bad year, in a cruel decade. A bitter winter had been followed by a harsh spring, and snow lay fathoms deep in the untravelled areas.

Worse, the running sickness had infected some of the wild beasts. True wolves - the softer and near-mindless creatures - had been killed in neighbouring towns. The sick ones were said to be walking up to fires, and intruding into the territories of man, as though they knew their bite and blood was death, and they feared and felt nothing.

(They call it wild-life rabies, now, but it was death by any name.)

The grass-eaters could catch the sickness, too. It caused a change in the reindeers' bleats that we were taught to know. The clan kept all the children close in those days, even me - at least to a point - but I had no close kin, and my care was nobody's chosen task.

There were far worse things than true wolves in the wilds around the town ...


It was as I remembered the year of the running sickness that I sensed ... something ... near me. The Talisman spilled from the tilting box as I stood, and I caught it, almost unaware.

There was neither scent nor sound, at first. I had remembered as vividly as I could, as I had been instructed - so at first I thought that my own mind had tricked me, making every shadow a sick and drooling bear.

Then, unmistakably, a frozen branch snapped under the weight of a foot! I whirled, snarling involuntarily...

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