I guess that’s where he learned about poisons in the first place. Say what you will about them, mountain nymphs definitely have a way with herbs. Maybe if he’d stayed on the mountain, he would have learned about antidotes too. Maybe if he’d stayed, he wouldn’t have needed an antidote. Maybe if he’d stayed, she would have wanted to help him.
In the end, she did use her skills to help him. In a way. She gave him something to end his pain. Right to the end he probably thought she would save him, no matter how badly he had treated her.
I must have come down with something on the journey, because I woke up to find I was also under her care. Typical. I survive ten years under siege, as plagues come and go, then the moment I’m out in the fresh country air I get sick.
But the nymph looked after me as tenderly as any old lover could have hoped for. Once, I think I found her kissing my fevered brow as I half-woke. It’s hard to be sure of anything when you’re in that state. But maybe the family resemblance was as striking as they’d said, all those years ago.
It would be so tempting to stay here. But I have responsibilities back in the city. I should be there, helping the people I love. This rural idyll was his life once, but never mine. For better or worse, my home is back in the city.
For however much longer it stands.