Blythe Atwood had seen no fawns or their herds since last she visited the witch of the Black Oak, but neither was she ready for inaction in the face of one such creature’s peril. Thinking of something so small and new of life removed from it squeezed around her heart, and she could almost hear Anne scoffing at her softness.
If there was a place for tenderness, it was not Blackmarsh, and least of all the Grasp.
When she looked upon what wildlife a wanderer as she might encounter in the woods, she would have smiled, perhaps watched it toe through the trees - now all she could picture was their skeletons. It was not with malicious wanting that her stare lingered over the curvature of spines, arching necks, but a catalog of anatomy. It was too clinical.
Her fingers curled, and she thought they might fit the contours of a crow’s rib.
The way back to her quarters in Stranglehold ended with empty hands, and most of her was glad for it. Blythe understood what she had been told, but lacked the experienced Anne did. It would be difficult to put into practice, to watch and wait when the opening of her arms and nurturing pains was her impulse.
Was it not she who had reassured the penitent Valaen when a flower withered in her palm? Life and death go hand in hand; there can’t be one without the other. Words from her own mouth, when it was another in need of an explanation, so why then did she resist applying it to herself? As life and death indeed spun on the same coin, so too did flora and fauna. A lily did not eat or drink as a fawn did, but it needed and gave energy all the same. She did not weep for wilted flowers given back to the earth.
Sitting herself at her vanity table, Blythe upended the bones from the pouch which held them. They clattered across the surface, hollow and dry. She stayed her hands, watched how they lay, and began to read.