I wake up, burning with a fever, my whole body on fire. I lose count of the days that I lie in bed, too weak to even sit up. The old lady cares for me, sponging my brow with a wet cloth, murmuring stories to me, telling me to fight for my life. My dreams are haunted by images of snarling wolves and forest branches that try to grab me as I run past. "Darling, what is your name and how old are you?" she asks me when I am slightly better. "Avona and I'm nineteen, my lady," I answer. "Call me Gertina or mother my dear," she tells me. Soon I'm well enough to explore, pattering around the cottage on bare feet, wrapped in a cloak that smells of pine forests, mountain air and man. A couple of days more and I am strong enough to help Gertina around the pretty cottage. It's humble, but clean, cosy and well lit, with rugs of skin from wolves covering the floorboards, chairs and a table carved by hand and a fireplace with a cooking pot above the flames. I have not stepped outside ever since I woke up here and Gertina seems reluctant to let me out. "Gertina, where is my sword?" I ask her one day. "Here it is Avona, but take care of yourself," she smiles, handing it to me. I strap it onto my belt, wearing her son's cloak over my dress and step out of the cottage. What I see makes me stop in my tracks.