Making a House Call

The pain from the antivenom injecting into her vein caused Kalena to cry out and the street became a blur and she slipped to the ground as her vision slipped into darkness. She vaguely sensed Lafayette picking her up and laying her over Pepper's saddle, then swinging himself up behind her on the great avian mount, and then all awareness fled her.

When Kalena came back to consciousness her dim surroundings were hard to discern. She felt very hot and feverish, and her body weak and exhausted like she had the flu. It took everything in her just to turn her head to look around. She blinked and tried to focus her bleary eyes. As her vision began clearing, she saw she was back at the modest home she shared with Lafayette and lying upon a table in the house's sitting room. The hearth fireplace was lit and its flames danced, their fierce heat making her perspire.

What was happening? The place was like an oven and she could hardly think or even breathe. The last thing she recalled was trying to return to where she had left Solandriel. She put a hand on the back of her sore neck and something clicked. She had been poisoned, twice over. She remembered Lafayette finding her, who had obviously brought her home to recuperate.

A shadow moved on the corner of her eye and her heart suddenly started at the sight of a tall, thin figure looming at the edge of the table; it looked like some horned grim reaper, watching, waiting for her to die. No, you won't take me! she tried to shout, but the words came out in an unintelligible slur. She turned on her side, pulling an arm out from under the heavy blankets. With a desperate surge of strength, her hand palmed something metal next to her and she thrust it towards the reaper, trying to fend it off.

“No, Kalena, she’s here to help…”

Another even taller figure interceded, grabbing the former assassin by the arm and shoulder and gently retraining her in the makeshift bed.

The first figure had leaned back out of the way with a casual swiftness as if this was common. “Lafayette was correct. I should not have left anything within arm's reach.” The voice was female, but deeper, slow, and melancholy. “Thank you for securing her…” Slight pause, “Shel.”

Kalena confusedly looked up at their half-orc lodger and let the improvised weapon fall from her hand so that it clattered to the floor.

“You are safe,” the stranger assured her. “Shel, allow her to move freely.”

“Are you sure that's such a good idea?” The familiar voice of Shel was near Kalena’s ear. “Okay…” She sounded skeptical, but slowly took her green hand and forearm away that was holding Kalena in check.

Once freed, Kalena threw aside the thick woolen blankets covering her and tugged uncomfortably at the shoulder of her garment, feeling it clinging with sweat only to realize it was her scanty night shift.

“If you're wondering,” Shel said. “I was the one who changed you into your nightie. I figured you’d prefer another woman do it than Lafayette.”

“You lot all make such grand deals over bodies,” the stranger said at seeing Kalena's rather pained and embarrassed look. “No matter…” A pair of thin chilly hands grabbed one of hers, thrusting a clay cup into it. “Drink this, Miss Valade, all of it. You must keep it down. You need to get fresh fluids back in your system. Once you finish drinking the tincture, I will give you something that tastes a lot better, which will help restore you further,” the blurry figure promised before vanishing into the kitchen.

When she had left, Kalena weakly turned to Shel and asked, “Who is that... person?”

“Someone Lafayette called on to help you. I think she owed him a favor. Here,” Shel said, helping Kalena sit up, and keep her propped there. With no backboard to the makeshift bed it was necessary.

The drink smelt earthy and like tree bark. Kalena brought the cup to her lips and took a small sip, almost choking on the bitter brew. “Oh, this is awful,” she croaked, but continued to drink it.

When the cup was empty, Shel took it away and then propped some gathered cushions behind Kalena on the table so she could sit up on her own as the other woman returned and presented her with a steaming bowl of soup. It smelt very good. Lifting the spoon to her mouth, she found it to be a rustic mushroom soup, but with chunks of potatoes, wild rainbow carrots, and other less identifiable vegetables that gave added flavour and body to the broth. It was most delicious, and she savoured every drop.

Shel's nostrils flared, inhaling the aroma hungrily. “Is that all you made?” she asked.

“There is some more left in the kitchen,” the other woman said.

As Shel went to get some, Kalena found her eyesight had nearly improved to normal and she fixed her full attention upon the stranger, who was indeed quite strange. The woman was over six feet tall and had gray-hued skin and elven ears. The hair was white and from it protruded a pair of bovine-like horns. Even more oddly, a long, thin, flexible tail emerged from behind the woman, resembling a cow's. It swished back and forth, like a living thing.

“Who are you?” Kalena asked. She wanted to ask what the hell are you, but thought that might be a touch rude.

“My name is Prespa. I am a medical practitioner.”

“A medical practitioner? Well, thank you for making a house call.”

“I was summoned by your friend to save your life, though I do not believe your life was ever in any real danger. I am of the opinion I merely speeded your recovery and spared you many days of physical suffering and discomfort.”

“What, by roasting me alive?” Kalena asked sarcastically, wiping sweat from her brow. She felt disgusting in her damp night shift and longed for a refreshing bath to wash herself and cool her overheated body.

“It was more like steaming,” Prespa said, taking a seat across from Kalena and crossing her long stick-thin leg over the other. “Oh,” she fished in her pocket. “Lafayette left you a message I was supposed to give you once you had awoken.” She leaned forward and held it out to Kalena. “I would save you the trouble and read it to you, but that man’s writing is atrocious.”

Kalena weakly reached over and took the note from Prespa, and opening the folded parchment, began to read.

“Kalena, went to get info on or save Gre..Gad...Gerda. I'll be back soon. Don’t worry, the tall horned lady is nice and owes me favors, you are in good hands. I’ll watch out for darts and have Greeda....Gerda home here in time for breakfast.” Lafayette had misspelled the dwarf woman's name a few times, scratching through the mistakes. Prespa was also correct in her assessment of his hand writing; it was written in the handwriting of a person who rarely used the language at least in its written form.

“He must be out of his mind,” Kalena said under her breath.

“P.S. I am not out of my mind.”


Lafayette stood in hiding outside an old warehouse in the town of Indrasel, slowly making mental notes of the guards' patrols. “I must be out of my mind…” he mumbled to Pepper, counting the ninth guard.

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