When Carissa staggered for the fifth time, she decided to call it a night. Even though nightfall wasn’t yet upon her. Carissa collapsed to the ground, leaning against her thick backpack as she caught her breath.
She’d forgotten how debilitating it was to be constantly injured. She’d become so used to Elon’s healing.
Carissa drew her sleeve up and eyed a gash on her forearm. Dark tendrils snaked out from the cut, as if the blood in her veins had been turned black. How long would she survive before she was infected? Carissa ran her finger along the edge of the gash, and pain burst across her arm, making white spots flash across her vision.
Carissa drew her hand back with a hiss. She couldn’t go on for much longer like this. She needed to be healed soon. But Elon wasn’t around. Not that she’d ask him if he were.
Carissa set her head against the back and glanced up at the canopy. It was so thick and lush that she could barely catch glimpses of the gray sky. Elon had said that some of his gifting had been passed onto her, hadn’t he? But how much of the gifting? Enough to heal herself?
Carissa drew her arms out of the pack’s straps with a groan. It was worth a try. After all, at worst it would be ineffective, and she would be the same after she tried as before.
After making note of her surroundings and some landmarks, she ventured deeper into the forest. She was almost too tired to walk, and her feet caught on knobby tree roots. The air was more humid this side of Esmeray, but the air still had a chilly bite to it.
The faint burble of water made her ears pricked, and she veered to the left to follow the sound. A stream, as wide as she was tall, wove through the trees. She tugged up her sleeve and dipped her wounded forearm beneath the water.
She thought of how Elon used his hands to caress and stroke her skin until it was healed. She dipped her free hand beneath the water and rubbed the skin on her forearm. She closed her eyes, willing the warmth of healing to rush through her.
A cold sensation clenched her so suddenly that she had to suppress a yelp, like someone had dumped a bucket of ice water down her throat. And then agony, pure, unadulterated agony. Like someone was raking their nails through her gash, making the raw flesh burn hotter than she thought possible.
Carissa yanked her forearm back out of the water and clutched it to her chest, trying to breathe through the pain. Her temples throbbed and air stuttered in and out of her chest. As the pain gradually receded, she calmed and loosened her grip on her arm.
But the panic returned when she laid eyes on the gash. The blackness in her veins had spread, and the gash was wider, foaming with an inky substance.