01- Into The Past
Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
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Into The Past  



Chapter  1  



A.D. 1127

The day was shaping up to be another frustrating one for Shallia Garrett. This was the third day in a row that she had been searching for the sole herb that completed her pharmacopoeia -- and it was turning out to be the most elusive of everything she worked with.

For ten years now she had been serving the tiny villages north of Dhassa as healer, although the latter was done under the guise of simple herbal remedies. Shallia still shuddered at the memory of her maternal grandmother falling under a hail of stones once her Deryni heritage had become known. Since that day, Shallia had been living a life where every moment she feared discovery -- of both who she was, and what she could do.

To minimize that risk, Shallia had chosen to live deep within the woods, away from any one village. Those who knew where to look knew where she could be found if needed, but for her own mental health the solitude the cottage offered her was immeasurable. Even though the ability to heal ran strong within her, Shallia's skills as a herbalist were just as important. Much of what she used was within a day's journey from her home, but the tacil had been becoming somewhat scarce recently, and what plants she was able to find were sickly looking, or were completely barren. So she began to roam further and further afield. This time, Shallia chose to move northward.

By the third day, clouds could be seen massing to the north, and Shallia was aware that a storm was on its way and she without protection. As the day wore on, and she was still unable to find any evidence of tacil plants, a light misty rain began to fall. With the light rapidly diminishing, Shallia realized that she had best seek shelter, and it was too far back to her cottage. Not relishing the thought of remaining in the woods unprotected, even if for a single night, the healer hurriedly wrapped her tattered shawl over her head, and as the storm grew stronger, broke into a trot, bending her head against the increasing wind and rain. Through the trees ahead, she saw what looked to be the remains of a structure -- possibly a stable. Hoping to find at least partial shelter from the storm, she ran towards it.

It was very old, and Shallia guessed that the structure had been moldering away for over a hundred years at least -- maybe more. A decaying wall was to her left and a partially collapsed roof slanted down -- creating a small cave-like opening into which she proceeded to burrow. Inside her small shelter the darkness was nearly absolute, with only flashes of lightening briefly illuminating the area outside. Taking a furtive glance around and a then self-conscious laugh when she knew she was alone, Shallia slightly cupped her right hand, and a pale green glow began to grow until both the shelter and her face were outlined in emerald light.

It was clearly the remains of a stable, as with a little examination the rusted remains of a horseshoe and bit were found. Nothing much else was to be seen, save for the remnants of animal nests and burrows. Settling down with her clothes drawn tightly against her chilled body and knawing on a crust of bread taken from her pack, Shallia sat back and looked out into the rain.

Lightening was flashing intermittently, and as she glanced around, she noticed what looked to be a rectangular shape approximately ten feet away from her present position. Squinting against the obscuring rain and flashes of lightening, the healer could barely make out that it was a door. Yet it made no sense, as it seemed to grow out of the hill behind it. Casting out with her senses, Shallia was able to detect at least slightly, that a hollow area existed behind it. Her curiosity peaked, she decided that she would explore what lay beyond the door once the storm blew itself out. With that goal set firmly in her mind, Shallia settled down further, and pulling her shawl over her face, drifted off into sleep.



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