Chapter 1., this chapter is rated T
(just setting up the story, probably kind of dull bear with me!)
I was apprenticed to Lady Eir the Royal Healer of Asgard and the most famed healer in the realm. I was born the older daughter of a moderately successful merchant who specialized in selling both herbs for cooking and herbs and plants for medicine, we had a plot of land behind the shop where my family grew herbs and medicinal plants and I was always fascinated by the healing properties of plants and the making of medicines out of them. I took up the care of these plants as I grew older and especially after my Mother passed away when I was ten. My father knew how to read and write and had taught me to do the same so I could help him manage the store and the books and I decided to learn as much as possible about making medicines from plants as I grew, so I found any books I could on the subject and I found seeds for new healing plants and greatly increased the number of medicinal plants we grew and sold. I even began to compound and crush plants into oils, ointments and extracts and to sell these healing preparations in the store. I also helped care for my younger brother and sister after my Mother passed away.
I came to be apprenticed to the Lady Eir once word of my making of healing preparations and advice to customers on how to use them somehow reached the ears of the great Lady Eir herself; she came into our store one day asking for me, Rowan specifically. I was only seventeen, we were so honored to have a famous name among the halls of the Royal family visiting us. She asked many questions about our shop and my herbal preparations and about me, myself -she seemed shocked that I was so young, she had expected someone older and had also expected me to have learned from some better practitioner of the healing arts than just what I learned from my mother and what I had taught myself from two old and ragged medical herb-lore books I had purchased cheaply. She said that she believed I had a natural talent for healing and that she could use an assistant and as such I could learn much more about healing. I was shocked when she offered me an apprenticeship with her, to learn true healing magic and all she knew of medicinal plant craft and surgical repair of those wounded in battle. I knew I would miss my family but I was of an age I knew that if I had not brought in much needed income to the shop my Father would have already betrothed me off to someone I most likely had never met and could not stand once I did meet them so my days at home were numbered one way or another and this offered a chance to learn and to be the guardian of my own future someday so I said yes. I packed my things that very day and left with Lady Eir for the palace of Asgard.
From the merchant’s quarter where our house and shop was we rode in a carriage through the city to the shining and golden walled palace of Asgard which towered over the city like a mountain, getting more and more enormous the closer we got. Once there we stepped out of the carriage and through towering golden doors guarded by golden armored and helmeted einherjar who merely nodded to Lady Eir and allowed them to pass. Inside then they passed so many hallways, she wondered how she would ever learn to find her way around the palace without getting lost. It truly was another city within the city. She wondered if she would ever see the king himself, King Odin. He was the only member of the royal family left now as the Queen, Frigga had died in an attack by dark elves, Prince Thor, the oldest son, had chosen to go live on Midgard where rumor had it he had fallen in love with a Midgardian woman, and the younger son Prince Loki had fallen in battle in Svartalfheim battling the dark elves, dying a hero’s death defending his brother. And this a year or so after Prince Loki had been imprisoned in the dungeons for a failed invasion and attempt to rule Midgard.
Eventually Lady Eir, who said I should call her only Eir and not Lady Eir, led me to a large room filled with ten small beds and many small tables and lots of shelves and she explained that this was the healing room where patients who needed constant watching and care where kept while being tended too, she then led me to an attached room which was obviously a room for compounding and making medicines, it was filled with shelves and cabinets and had countertops with scales, bottles, jars, mortars and pestles and large, labeled bottles filled with liquids, powders, seeds, and ground up leaves and flowers. She felt like a kid in a candy shop in this room as Eir opened cabinets and drawers and showed her around the room. From there Eir led her down a small hall that had a door that opened to a small room where I would sleep, with a very small attached bathroom and another small room identical to mine and then at the end of the hall way was a large and better appointed suite of rooms belonging to Lady Eir herself.
My days passed quickly as I had so much to learn, besides all she had to teach me of medicines and surgeries and herb craft that I did not know yet, I did not know any magic or know if I possessed any natural abilities to perform magic. I had had premonitions and scraps of dreams that had come true in the past and when entreated to visit customers to assist in the treatment of an illness or when caring for ill family members I often felt as though I could feel their symptoms and pain myself to some degree if I touched them and also that she could ease their symptoms with a mere touch and soothing voice but surely that was not magic. Eir took it upon herself to teach me from square one how to perform healing magic which first required some general basics of magic and of meditation and mindfulness and this was all new and proved very difficult to me at first; most people begin to learn magic as children whereas I was almost eighteen and a woman grown by the time I began magic lessons with her. The basics of surgery were easier but we were not afforded many wounded on which to practice as we were at peace, so we had to practice on cadavers, read about it in manuscripts and practice on those who happened to get injured in accidents or duels or fights or attacks by husbands come home early and such. I did gradually gain some confidence in the skills she was teaching me as time went on. My patient teacher, Eir, admitted though that The Council of Seers, a group of psychic visionaries who made predictions and prophesies had predicted war and portents of tribulation to come soon and she said that is one reason she felt it important to have a trained apprentice to assist her if such times came upon Asgard.
I learned my way around the palace somewhat but there were large areas of it I had not explored and would no doubt still become quite lost should I venture into those wings. I met the king finally one day while in the gardens with Eir. They were called the Queen’s gardens or Frigga’s gardens as she had originally planned and planted much of the gardens around the palace. A large section was devoted though to healing and medicinal plants and was tended exclusively by Eir and myself and as we walked one day through the garden paths we came upon the king, Odin himself and two einherjar guards who walked behind and to each side of him. Eir and I bowed low and Odin nodded at the healer who inquired after the King’s well-being and then gestured to me and said, “Your majesty this is Rowan, my new apprentice.” I bowed again to the King, unsure of etiquette. He was an older man with silver hair, lines in his face, a well-trimmed white beard and a golden eye-patch. His single eye was of indiscriminate color, bluish grey perhaps, but as he took my hand and kissed it in greeting his eye seemed to shimmer for a second with a green light and to darken to a rather startling bluish-green color and for that moment his small smile flickered to a slightly wolfish, smirking grin with dimples and then was quickly gone. I turned quickly to see if Eir had noticed anything unusual but her face registered nothing unusual. Perhaps I had only imagined it, but I felt rather unsettled by the meeting.