Chapter 14: Sickness

Isolde clung to life, barely breathing.

Isolde clung to life, barely breathing.

The sun set and rose three times, but little Isolde did not wake. She lay very still in the bed, her breathing shallow, and her skin burning with fever. The best doctors in the land visited, as did the priest. They did everything they could – bloodletting, enemas, even exorcism, but no one was able to revive the dying child.

One the eve of the third day, Priscilla guiltily confessed to Arlwyn what she had done seven years prior.

“Witchcraft! You turned to witchcraft to conceive our child?” The blood drained from Arlwyn’s face. Sick Child (5)

“Then…this—this illness must be a punishment from God. You’ve brought the wrath of God down upon our defenseless child. How could you?” Arlwyn stared at his wife as though he had never truly seen her before.

Sick Child (8)

“Don’t you judge me.” Priscilla spoke in a slow, icy voice. “You made it clear that it was my duty to provide you with a child. I was only trying to do what you wanted.”

Sick Child (4)

Arlwyn felt his insides boil. “I love our daughter,” he said, clenching his fists. “But I did not want this. Not this.” He demanded to know the name of the witch who had given Priscilla the elixir.

Sick Child (3)

“Her name is Flora Goode,” Priscilla said with a twisted smile. “I believe you know her. She was happy to help me when I threatened to expose her for the harlot that she is.”

Arlwyn could not believe it. Dizzy with shock and grief, he stumbled outside, mounted his horse, and raced through the rain to find Flora. When he did not find her in her cabin, he searched through the woods until at last he found her. He ran to her and threw himself at her feet. Crazed with grief and desperation, he begged her to save the life of his little girl.

Screenshot-732 Sick Child (7)

“Please, please, Flora my love. I’ll do anything. Don’t let her die!”

Sick Child (6)

“Of course I will help,” Flora promised. At once, she set off. But she did not go home, as she knew that she could not find the answer there. In truth, she did not know how to break the connection that had sickened the body and soul of the little girl. There would be consequences, she had warned Lady Priscilla years ago. But not even Flora had known how dire those consequences would be. Now, the daughter of the man whom she loved with all her heart, clung to life, barely breathing, and it was all her fault.

Now she found herself alone in the small village church, weeping for fear and despair. She sank down to the hard stone floor and begged God to have mercy on her and to help her find a way to heal the child.

Screen F (12)

“Please God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

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