Serapha: Chapter 6

When Corvala woke, it was nearly noon the next day. She had no recollection of her dream from the night before but was thinking only of how she had wasted time sleeping in so late. Her few hours of sleep on the nights before and after the trial had worn down her body and mind. Even so, she was angry at herself.

Father is suffering worse than you are, she scolded herself.

She tended to her father, giving him new clothes and new sheets. After she had taken care of him, she gave her undivided attention to her book on healing. All day and into the early evening, she worked her way through the chaotic writing, flipping back and forth through the pages countless times. When she finished, she had garnered a collection of notes on how to treat her father’s wounds, all put into an order that made sense. The only problem was that there were several terms she didn’t understand—the jargon of ancient healers. So she didn’t know what next to do for her father.

There was, however, one man in the village who might be able to help her.

Corvala gathered up her papers. Since it would be a cool evening outside, she put on her cloak, keeping her papers under her arm so no one could see them. As she left her house, she was startled to see that there was a pair of guards playing a dice game outside her door. But then she remembered that Mayor Green had posted them there after the trial. This way no one would try to finish Exodus off as he lay in his weakened state. The guards’ presence made Corvala feel a little better about leaving her house. At least her father wouldn’t be completely alone.

She walked to the village and entered through the gate, getting no small amount of solemn stares from the people. Some looked away in shame. She ignored them. After heading down the main road, she entered a dark and empty alleyway between the wooden buildings and came to a small door with a wreath of herbs hanging on it. This was where the apothecary lived.

Corvala knocked. After a short wait, the apothecary appeared in his doorway. He was tall and thin like a crane and his hair stuck out at the sides like wild feathers. He was about to put on a kindly face for greeting customers, but his expression changed to surprise when he realized who stood before him.

“Miss Keen!” he gasped. “What are you—what can I do for you?”

“I need to come inside, Mr. Benson. I have something very important to ask you.”

“It’s about your father, isn’t it?”

Corvala nodded. She was putting him in a difficult position. She could tell he wanted to help, but rules forbade people from giving aid to judges and their families. Just as judges were on the outside of the law, so too were they on the outside of charity. This way one no one could curry favor with a judge and potentially escape justice.

“Please,” she said. “My father needs your help.”

Mr. Benson bit his lip and scrunched his brow. Then he looked both ways down the alleyway to make sure no one was watching.

“Come in. Come in,” he said at last, motioning Corvala inside.

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