Sian pushed her trowel firmly into the earth, one hand pressed on top of the other. Her greying blouse was pushed up to the elbows, bunching furiously with the puffy handspun fabric. A simple brown bodice and skirt accompanied her 'work tunic' as she toiled in the woods. Indiscriminately placed smudges of dirt adorned her simple outfit and as one hand reached up to her forehead another was added to her pale face.
With careful fingers the young woman pulled a long white root from the cool earth. Gently shaking the clumps of soil she lay the precious plant in her carrying basket. A cold evening breeze surged briefly through the brushwood but Sian was still warm from searching and digging. Knowingly she reached for her shawl, perhaps she was not cold now, but the cool of the evening came of fast and it would not be long until she began to feel the chill.
Looking up at the setting sun Sian decided to call her foraging day at an end. Her basket was not as full as she would have liked, but a familiar fear began to pluck at the hair on the back of her neck. Another draft came, this time passing through her clothes. She pulled her shawl tight and picked up her things: it was definitely time to go.
Her journey home was not far but she walked with purpose down the narrow track through the trees. Soon she came upon a clearing and she felt her muscles relax. On the other side stood a small dwelling; haphazard pieces of wood, some found, others cut, bound together to form a small hut - Her home. Sian went to move forward, but something made her hesitate...
Energy brushed the edge of her senses... she could not hear it or see it, but she could *feel* it; a soft crackle of power tickling some part of her mind. A lead weight dropped in the pit of her stomach. Is this it? She stood frozen with a deep fear. Has it come for me? She willed her legs to move but they would not. She wished for the feeling to subside, however it intensified to an almost unbearable degree.
The air before her fractured - a whirling twisting hole appeared, fringed with azure light. It grew in size, a great chasm pulling in on itself. Watery light danced across the patchy clearing casting eerie shadows from the boughs that surrounded her. She thought the opening would swallow her whole pulling her into the depths of Hell, but as she fell to her knees a dark shape formed in the space and thrust forward.
A great mass propelled her body to the ground, her head snapped backwards and connected with the hard winter's earth. The murmurings of strange words caressed her ears until Sian's world swarm with darkness and she slipped into oblivion.
Quinn looked down at the small form beneath him. Scrambling to his feet he narrowly missed Rembrandt as he hurled through the air. Concerned that the Professor might also land on the woman Quinn reached and scooped up her limp form and moved quickly to the side. Her head lolled backwards, her mouth ajar. The young physicist cursed under his breath as the gateway's electric light snapped out, returning the wooded area to the long shadowed copper of dusk.
Rembrandt was the next to recover, his great dislike of slide landings encouraged him to practice falling to the floor. Now adept at 'controlled tumbling' the singer more often than not rolled onto his feet. Wade and Arturo, however, were still wallowing on he floor with the all too familiar groans.
"She's hurt." Quinn lamented, "I hit her square on." The guilt was clear on his face.
Rembrandt closed in and had a quick inspection. "Looks like she's taken a bang to the head." He stated uncertainly. "It's not like you had much choice in the matter, let's just the best to make sure she's alright." Wade appeared at some point, she patted her short hair down as she looked around.
"There's a hut over there," She said matter-of-factly. "Let's get her in the warm and tend to her there. No point staying out in the cold."
"Not exactly a monument of engineering," Maximilion's voice boomed across the clearing. "More like a pile of sticks!" His aggravated tone permeated into the woods sending some birds fluttering into the sky. His bad mood from the previous Earth had clearly travelled with him.
"Professor!" Wade cried with an attempted at hushing him. "It's probably her home and I don't see anything else around do you?" The large Englishman shrugged and muttered something to himself, but Wade and the others were already making their way towards the small dwelling.
"As you have so cunningly pointed out, Miss Welles," Arturo's lecturing tone made the woman wince, "There is not much here. Perhaps some of us should go and look for civilisation - if there is any on this Earth!"
Rembrandt rolled his eyes, "Come on then, let's go before one of you has a full on tantrum." He tugged the Professor's elbow as others turned back to the shack.
Wade gently held the small door open as Quinn shifted his tall frame into the house. Inside was a single room with a small pallet for a bed, a chimney to one side and a metal basin in the corner. An array of plants were tied and hung on the walls and a collection of misty glassed jars stuffed with a variety of powders were strewn across the floor. One small window had been made next to the door but there was no glass to stop the cold, just a feeble pair of shutters.
The floor creaked in protest as Quinn lay his victim down on the bed space. She groaned as the bruise on her head met the thin pillow. Relief flooded him. At least she is alive, hopefully it's not too serious, he thought to himself. Having pulled a rough wool blanket over her meager frame Quinn turned to Wade, "What do we do now?"
Rubbing her own arms she looked about. "I'll have a look at her," She smiled sympathetically at her sliding companion. His remorse and concern spilled out of him, from the way he stood, to the small furrow of his brow. "Do you want to get the fire going? It's getting cold really quick." She looked to the door briefly, "I hope the others don't take too long."
As Quinn clomped around the room pulling the ill fitting door and shutters to, Wade sat down next to the woman and took a look at her head. There was no wound or blood as far as she could tell, but it was certainly sensitive to the touch. She hoped that a concussion was the worst of it. A thin clammy sheen had developed on her forehead so Wade grabbed a small scrap of cloth and gently dabbed at her skin, careful not to put pressure on the bruise.
A small yelp of success escaped Quinn's lips as he managed to get the fire to take hold. A small pile of kindling was now burning lightly, its flames licking at the larger more substantial chopped logs. The fire brought a welcome glow to the now darkening room but it's warm was yet to make much impact. Quinn stood by the fire looking across the room to Wade.
"Think she'll be alright?" His tone edged with hope.
"I reckon so. D'ya think she lives here all on her own?" She mused as she felt the unfortunate woman's temperature.
"I guess so," Quinn realised, there wasn't much room for anyone else. "Seems a little odd for a woman to live a lone in a forest." He hunkered down by the growing warmth, rubbing his hands together.
"I'm sure she was doing just fine before we came crashing into her world." Wade winced as Quinn's face sunk back with guilt. She had meant make a quip him always assuming women were helpless, but had missed the point. Chewing on her lip with regret she looked down. The ancient style of clothing puzzled her, but as she looked on the woman's body twisted and her eyelashes fluttered.
"I think she is coming around!" Wade reached out to comfort her, cooing gentle words of encouragement. Quinn snapped back to his feet in anticipation, but his height foiled him as his head connected with a low hanging pot. The resulting clang sent the physics student stumbling back toward the fire, cursing his own stupidity.
Wade would have laughed had their patient not cried out. The frail woman was sluggishly backing away from her, pushing herself into the corner of the room. Her eyes were still heavy but fixed on Quinn as he came to his own senses. A slur of syllables slipped out of her mouth, the tone drenched with panic. However nothing she said made any sense to either Wade or Quinn and as Quinn approached with apologies and open palms her state only worsened.
Wailing and slipping from the pallet the woman prostrated herself before Quinn, her body trembling.
"Nae, nae!" She cried, her slender fingers reaching towards Quinn's boots, "Parcho egus, parcho egus, pertoro..."