Excerpt: The Potion Maker

Sarin was brewing chasit when something thumped loudly against his door. He stared at the door, absently waving a hand at the cauldron to make the spoon keep stirring on its own. The little cabin he lived in wasn’t large: all one room, stuffed with furniture and shelves and boxes, and half a day’s travel into the woods from the closest small town. It was a good day and a half to the nearest town with a market worth the trip.

Perhaps it was a tree branch that had fallen and thumped against his door? Sarin crossed the room, his bare feet padding softly on the wooden floor. He opened the door and stared some more.

The man was huge. That was the very first thing Sarin noticed. He was leaning against the doorway like he was drunk and couldn’t support his own weight. He was dark skinned, broad shouldered, and had three days’ worth of scruff on his face.

“Good,” the man slurred. “I might not die.” With that, he collapsed into the doorway, leaving Sarin to catch him or dodge.

Still shocked at having a visitor when he’d never had one at his cabin before, Sarin did neither. Instead, he managed to break the man’s fall by taking his full weight. They hit the floor together, and the breath whooshed out of his lungs and his elbows cracked hard against the floor, bringing tears to his eyes.

The man was heavy, and after taking a moment to collect his squished-and-scrambled wits, Sarin wiggled and shoved and finally got out from under him with more effort than he thought was probably necessary. He clambered to his feet, rubbing his elbows and staring some more.

Might not die? So not drunk—and Sarin abruptly realized there was blood on his hands and staining the front of his shirt and pants. It was a good thing he was wearing his brewing clothes, which were already stained beyond repair. What was not a good thing was staring at the man on his floor like he might spontaneously disappear as quickly as he’d appeared.

“Um,” Sarin muttered, kneeling down. He wrinkled his nose, wiping his bloody hands off on his shirt. That only succeeding in smearing blood everywhere, and he sighed. Well, if there was blood on his hands, it meant the man’s shirt and cloak were probably already bloody and he couldn’t get mad at Sarin for making them worse.

Leaning down, Sarin shoved with all his might at the man’s shoulder, only managing to flip him over with a lot of effort and because the man’s legs got caught on the doorway and he couldn’t slide away. There was blood smeared on the floor. Not a lot, which was good. The cloak wasn’t secured in the front, and Sarin pushed it away to reveal a small hole in the front of the man’s shirt.

That was the source of the blood, and Sarin hesitated, glancing at the man’s face—but he was still out cold, his face pale and his lips tinged with blue. He hadn’t lost that much blood, had he? Sarin yanked at the hole in the shirt, making it bigger. He could burn it, maybe. That way the man wouldn’t see he’d torn it up.

Sarin bit his lip when he saw the wound. It was a small gash, though perhaps it was a puncture? Sarin wasn’t about to stick his fingers in the hole to see how deep it went. It was bleeding sluggishly, dripping blood down the man’s stomach. Blood had been smeared across the man’s skin, probably from him moving, but it wasn’t enough to disguise the telltale blue streaks that led away from the wound.

Illiath poison. That was odd. Also usually fatal, unless the victim got to a healer quickly and that healer had a good stock of the antidote.

Luckily for Sarin’s unexpected visitor, Sarin did. He’d never gotten very far into healing, but he was a stellar potion maker, and he had several bottles of Illiath antidote ready and waiting to be brought to the market.

“Right, antidote,” Sarin said, scrambling to his feet. He nearly pitched over, getting up so fast his feet weren’t completely under him before he was moving. “Don’t fall, don’t fall.” He braced himself on the wall, then pushed away from it, heading to the little storage cabinet where he kept his finished brews.

It was two-thirds full, almost ready for a trip into town. Sarin snagged the little vial that housed the bright green antidote, double checking the symbol on it was correct as he crossed the cabin back to the fallen man on his floor. It was right, and he knelt again, pulling out the glass stopper and letting it rest on the floor. He dabbed a bit of the potion on the open wound; that would help it close up. The rest he tipped into the man’s mouth, turning his head slightly so it would rest in his cheek until he swallowed it.

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