Fever Dreams

She had been ill, Tressa remembered, recalling in that distant, fuzzy sort of way you do halfway between dreaming and waking. The winds that blew in from the wylds had brought the Icewalker village ghostly voices and an ague that mysteriously affected only those with the Sight. She’d lain shaking from fever and chills for a week, but now found herself walking alone outside in the moonlight, expectation hanging in the air like the world holding its breath.

Snow floated around her, and the ground crackled under her boots. She watched the horizon as she made her way through the village, and was only half surprised when a silhouette appeared there. A figure made its way across the frigid landscape, and as it approached, she could see snow swirling wildly around it, and felt the piercing chill of blizzard winds. The disk of the moon loomed at its shoulder like a pale sentinel as a woman’s form took shape among the shadows. Her winds enveloped the village as she stopped a few paces from Tressa. Her face remained obscurred, but her eyes blazed like green fire through the blizzard.

“What do you want here?” Tressa demanded. The figure remained still for a moment, then began to sing in a strange undulating voice. The language was unfamiliar, but nothing like the voices from the wyld. A hand reached out toward Tressa, and she felt the cold roll off of the woman in waves.

I think the fever has broken.

The wisewoman opened her eyes to see two healers leaning over her. Without a word, she pulled the blankets up around her shoulders and rose to join the crowd that had gathered outside. A stranger with wheat colored hair was given a wide berth in their midst. Why had she come? What did she want from them, they asked. Her gaze swept around around the circle dreamily, but when those cat-green eyes met Tressa’s blue ones, she stopped and seemed to focus a little.

Tressa pushed her way through the murmuring crowd. Here and there, she saw hands flash signs of protection. The stranger was barely a woman, but with the Fair Folk, appearances could be decieving.

“Please join me by my fire, Traveler.” Tressa waved the others back as she led the girl to her tent. As they approached the fire, she seemed to become uncomfortable, and suddenly shied away from the flames. A piercing wail escaped her lips as she dropped in a faint. Tressa patted the girl’s cheek, jerking away in surprise when her fingers met ice-cold skin. She watched her apprehensively for a few moments, then pressed her hand against the young woman’s chest. A heart beat faintly against her palm.

“Bring me some blankets!” she called to the whispering villagers that watched anxiously at the tent’s entrance. The wisewoman left the girl who brought the furs to watch over the unconscious young woman, then made her way to the Chieftan’s tent. They suddenly had much to discuss.