"Zelendonii, come quickly,' Ayla shouted, dragging the injured man. She had found him at the bottom of the cliff, his arm mangled beneath him, his leg bent in a funny angle, there was blood coming out of his nose and a massive bump on his forehead. She knew that if the man didn't get healing treatment soon, he would probably die, or lose the use of his arm, and more importantly his leg. She wouldn't allow that, this man would live. "Zelendonii," she said reaching the holy woman's hearth. "We have work to do."
"I wonder who he is?" Ayla mused, as she cut off his clothes needing to see if he had any injuries that hadn't been immediately obvious.
"I don't recognise him" the holy woman responded, putting hot stones into a skin of water.
"His face looks unusual" commented Ayla, pulling his eyelids open to look at the pupils of his eyes.
"He is probably a visitor" the holy woman glanced at his bruised face, "it is difficult to say what people he comes from his face is swollen so much."
"He doesn't look like any of the people Jondalar and I met on our way here, and I agree he isn't a Zelendonii either." Examination over, Ayla started to plan, opening up her otter skin bag she spent long moments staring at its contents as thoughts cogitated within her mind.
"I want to make a henbane tea" she decided, speaking out loud, it is a very strong pain killer, but for now we need him to feel as little pain as possible."
"Are you sure" Zelendoni queried, "henbane can be dangerous."
Ayla nodded, "I know it can, but if we are careful and only use a small amount, then it should help keep him out of pain while we treat him."
Zelendoni laid a wooden bowl out, and poured the hot water into it, watching as Ayla measured out a small amount of the dangerous substance and added it to steep and cool.
"What about the head wound?" she asked, looking expectantly at the medicine woman.
"I think that a chamomile wash would be best to clean his wounds, it is mild and will not make them hurt more."
"What about his head wound?" Zelendoni tested her. We need to stop the blood."
Ayla thought for a moment, "I would like to make an iris wash; it will draw out any poison in the wound and help it to mend."
"And we will use plantainleaves to coverthe head wound, secured with a rabbit's skin" the holy woman added to Ayla's agreement.
They quickly got to work, and soon the strangers head was bandaged.
"Now onto the more difficult job" remarked Ayla, we have to reset his arm and leg." She started to timidly feel the man's misshapen limbs, "he had one bone broken in his leg, we will need to pull it back into its socket, but his arm is a different matter, many of the delicate bones are shattered in his arm wrist along with a big one in his arm."
"Do you think we will have to amputate?"
"Maybe" Ayla admitted, but the mother has ways of healing us, when our medicinal skills fall short."
They started on the leg; Zelendoni gripped the hip of the man while Ayla held the foot, manipulating the bone onto it clicked into position. Ayla swiftly spread the ooze from chopped peeled alfalfa roots on the leg, followed by a pulped willow bark that when dried would form a cast to protect the bone until it was healed.
The bone in the arm proved to need little manoeuvring and the wrist bones though shattered seemed to be in approximately the right place, so the two healers decided that they would hope for the best, and also covered it in the alfalfa ooze, and a willow bark cast.
Lastly, they got to work on his many bruises and cuts, Zelendoni had already steeps agrimony's leaves in hot water, and the two women tenderly washed him.
"That is all we can do for now" yawned Ayla realising it was late. "We will have to wait and see how he is tomorrow."
Zelendoni nodded her head in agreement, "Ayla you should get to your furs, you need your rest, not just for you but for the baby you are carrying."
Ayla grinned "I wonder if it will be a boy or girl" she pondered, smiling at the holy woman she continued "it doesn't really matter, just as though as it is healthy and Jonayla is so excited to be getting a sibling at long last."
The next morning Ayla quickly brewed herself a nausea relieving tea when she had woken up, and then hurried over to Zelendoni's hearth to check on the man.
"How is he?" she asked the tired looking holy woman.
"He is in a lot of pain, and I think he might be getting a fever" Zelendoni told her. "Should we make him some more henbane tea?"
Ayla shook her head, "no I only used that because we had to set his leg and arm, I think a willow tea would be much more beneficial to him now, it is mild but good enough to dull the pain, it will also help to bring his fever down.
"I was thinking about giving him some boneset syrup for that" Zelendoni told her, picking up a container.
"Yes, I think boneset would be a good idea as well, it would help him to sweat out the fever" she agreed, "mix it with honey and water, and get him to drink some, I will make some willow tea."
After the man had drunk his medicines and had his head wound looked at, he fell into an untroubled sleep.
As she walked back to her shelter, she heard Folara calling her and hurried over to see Jondalar's sister.
"Are you alright Folara?" Ayla asked when she saw her strained face.
"Yes" Folara replied, though her eyes were brimming with tears, "it is just, it is my moon time, and my stomach hurts."
Ayla nodded, and looked down kindly at the young girl, "would you like me to make you some tea to ease the pain?" she asked.
Folara's face broke out in a grin, "would you Ayla. Thank you Ayla."
Ayla hurried off to her hearth, and soon came back with a couple of small packages, taking some of the herb out of each; she sprinkles them into a bowl and poured the hot water that Folara had already been heating. She gave the one of the parcels to Folara, "this is crushed pasque flowers, it helps to take awaywomen's cramps." She gave Folara the other parcels, "this is powdered hops, it will calm you and help you to rest." She picked up the cooled bowl, "now drink up" she instructed the young woman, "and get some sleep."
It was a way of life for Ayla, the needs of her patients came before her own needs. Many a time Jondalar had to insist she slowed down and ate; especially now she was having another baby.
And they came, her patients wanting her advice and skills, they came with colds and coughs, sore backs and throbbing headaches, cuts, bruises and scraps. They came and Ayla dispensed her medicines and used her skills to make these people healthy again.
And sometimes they came back and thanked her.
The next time Ayla went to see the man, he was awake. "How are you feeling?" she asked, feeling his head.
"Better" he said, with a cracked voice, "can I have some water?"
Ayla quickly poured some into a cup, and helped him to sit up, so he could drink it.
His thirst sated, he frowned when he looked at his surroundings, "where am I?" he asked, "what happened to me?"
"You are in the ninth cave of the Zelendonii she told him, "I found you at the bottom of a cliff, you looked like you had fallen some way."
The man's eyes grew with fright, "I remember, I was trying to get to some wild berries, they were on a ledge, but there was a loose stone, and I slipped."
"You are fortunate that you are still alive" Ayla commented.
The man nodded, and then remembering his pain, he enquired "what's the damage?"
"You have a broken arm and leg, a crushed wrist, a wound on your head that is healing fine, and cuts and bruises."
"Yeah, I could feel some pain in my leg…."
"You have pain?" Ayla asked, healing mode on, "I will make you some medicine to help."
"Actually" the man started, "it isn't that bad, I think I can manage without it."
"Well see how you feel, if the pain gets worse then I can give you something" she smiled. "By the way, I am Ayla, how do you come to speak our language so well, you are not a Zelendonii."
The man smiled, "no Ayla I am not a Zelendonii, my people are called the Valencii, my mate was originally a Zelendonii who journeyed to our people, and we fell in love. She taught me the language, but unfortunately she died recently, and she asked me to go to her people, with a spirit stone so that the Zelendonia could lead her spirit back to her ancestral home and her family. She never had children, and I had no one left with the Valencii so I promised I would find her people and settle with them so I would be close to her. My name is Marcoda."
When Marcoda was well again, and starting to get around, Joharran decided that they would have a celebration to welcome him.
"Marcoda" he asked, when everyone's plates were filled with food, "will you tell us about your mate, Ayla has told me that she was a Zelendonii."
"My mate's name was Shadora."
Marthona gasped, "Shadora?" she queried, "I knew a girl called Shadora when I was young, she left on a journey with her brother."
"Yes, she came with a brother, but he carried on in his travels, said he felt the mother was leading him somewhere" he informed them. "We never saw him again, his name was…."
"Michelar, his name was Michelar" Marthona smiled, "I remember I fancied myself in love with him, but I was still a girl, and he was a young man, and rightfully only interested in the young women. They left the summer before I became a woman."
Ayla was so caught up in the romance of the young girl travelling to her mate, that she was shocked when she felt a light touch on her arm.
It was Lanoga, who had a grimace of pain on her face, "I think the baby is coming" she quietly stated.
Ayla awkwardly jumped up, her stomach protruding from her clothes, she knew that soon she would deliver her child but tonight was Lanoga's time and she would help her in any way she needed.
"Zelendonii" she said, looking at the woman, and then nodded slightly at Lanoga.
"You are nearly there" Ayla told Lanoga hours later, standing up she arched her sore back, and winced when she felt a contraction, another one.
Ayla ignored her pain, and concentrated on Lanoga who was birthing her first child. "Everything is going fine" she tried to calm the young woman.
"It hurts so much" Lanoga moaned.
"I know" Ayla answered through gritted teeth, she knew exactly how painful it was.
"I need to push" Lanoga shouted, "I need to push, pu-sh, pu-sh!" Lanoga started to push.
"Pant" Ayla instructed her, knowing her own baby was very close. She quickly examined Lanoga; double checking to make sure the pain she felt wasn't making her sloppy or unfocused.
"You can push Lanoga" she told her, feeling water dribble down her own leg.
"Zelendonii can you watch Lanoga for a little while" Ayla asked.
"What is going on Ayla, it is not like you to leave a labouring woman at such an important time" Zelendonii enquired, but had her answer when she saw Ayla take off her leggings and crouch down on the floor. Water and blood flowed from her birth passage as she delivered her baby.
"Ayla" Zelendonii cried out, "why didn't you say anything?"
"Lanoga needed me" Ayla simply stated, cleaning out the baby's mouth, "Lanoga needs you."
Zelendonii nodded, "I will get another woman's help first though" she told Ayla, and hurried out of the hearth, returning within moments with Marthona to find Ayla, holding her baby guiding Lanoga in giving birth to her own.
"Ayla" smiled Marthona, "is your baby a boy or a girl?"
"Ayla grinned, "she is another girl."