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As a child, Elisha witnessed the burning of a witch outside of London, and saw her transformed into an angel at the moment of her death, though all around him denied this vision. He swore that the next time he might have the chance to bind an angel’s wounds, he would be ready. And so he became a barber-surgeon, at the lowest ranks of the medical profession, following the only healer’s path available to a peasant’s son. But when the magic inside him finally awakens, he finds that keeping to that path will be even harder than he could ever imagine.
In "The Burning," a 4500-word prequel story to Elisha Barber, Elisha's mother tells her tale of that first vision and its aftermath. For if Elisha insists that his vision is a true one, he risks everything she and her husband have worked for, and tempts not only the fires of hell, but perhaps another burning right there on the outskirts of town...
This DAW eOriginal includes an excerpt from Elisha Barber following the story.
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The fight for my son’s soul began just after the witch burning. We’d gone up to London together, leaving little Nate with the Cutlers as I didn’t think he’d handle the journey. We were far from the stake, given the crowds, but we did have the farm wagon to stand on, so we could see the witch tied up there, and the piles of wood. Once the fire started, smoke obscured everything but the flash of the bishops’ golden crosses as they warded us against evil. Owain gave Elisha a penny to buy a banner from one of the vendors, so that’s what led him away to where it happened. What with the smoke we couldn’t see the Devil manifest in the flesh of his witch—saints be praised! we couldn’t see that—but Elisha’d run right down in there, and it was that brought corruption to our house. I’m sure it was.