Toadmila flinched. She'd seen illustrations and she'd read descriptions, but she had never practiced on live wounds. The three men looked far more composed, no doubt used to the signs of their mother's suffering.
“Please leave us alone so I can examine your mother,” Toadmila said in the calm, professional voice that she'd spent weeks practicing when she was at the Academy. The woman nodded at her sons encouragingly, and they backed out of the room and closed the door behind them.
That was enough time for Toadmila to regain her calm. She recognized the swellings, the redness, the puss. She had potions with her, and she had spells.
“Are the marks only on your arms?” she asked.
The woman shook her head. Slowly, she peeled off layers of clothes. Toadmila clenched her jaws in a vain attempt at keeping a professional face. The marks stretched all over the woman's torso. Only her face and the inside of her arms were untouched.
“When the demon came,” the woman said, wincing as she was peeling off clothes that stuck to her swollen skin, “I covered my face with my arms. I called Saint Rosalba for help, but I don't think she heard me.”
Toadmila raised her wand and began spinning the air in front of her. A soft breeze that smelled of herbs enveloped the woman, drying the puss and calming the inflamed skin.
Neither woman spoke. For half an hour, Toadmila worked her spell, clearing away the swelling and the redness. Finally, all that was left of the marks of the woman's illness was a network of crisscrossing scars. Toadmila looked around for a chair. Her knees felt weak and her wand felt heavy in her hand. There was no chair in the entire room, but four more beds, one of them very small, stood against the walls. Leaving all professionalism aside, Toadmila sat down on the side of one of the beds.
“How are you feeling now?” she asked, rummaging through the bag of potions she's brought with her.
“There's no more pain...” the woman said, “but my skin feels tight, like it's not my skin.”
“It will heal,” Toadmila said, pulling out a small jar. “Drink this, it will give you back your strength.”
The woman reached out a trembling hand. Toadmila sent the jar floating to the woman's lips with a flick of her wand.
“And this,” she added, producing a larger jar from her bag, “smear this over your skin where it feels tight, every day, for a week. Send one of your sons to get more when you need more.”
The woman nodded.
“One more thing,” Toadmila said, standing up. “Why did you call Saint Rosalba? There must be stronger saints you can call. Especially when you meet a demon.”
“Well, I was in the forest,” the woman said, rubbing the ointment into her skin. “And I'd already called her. We all call her when we enter the forest. Sometimes, you can hear the leaves rustle if she's nearby.”