The rotting stench and the burning smell of sulfur disappeared with the grut. In its place, Mara again could make out the same sweet floral scent that had first moved her to follow the forest path she’d taken. She breathed in the heady perfume, closing her eyes for a moment to delight in its luxurious depth, then entered the hut and closed the door behind herself as well as she could, given its condition. She sought to be cautious against another possible grut attack, or from an assault by a stalker of any other sort. She glanced about, quickly taking in her surrounds.
On the cabin’s walls hung shelves upon which sat simple earthenware jugs with faded, pocked exteriors. Likely they were for carrying water in from the river that ran behind the building, its gurgling once again audible. The surface of the simple dirt floor, packed down over many years, was smooth and shiny in spots. Scattered about were piles of dry decomposing leaves, various shredded linens, and a cape of the whitest, softest cashmere—a clear sign of extravagant wealth. Mara assumed the items belonged to the woman she found before her.
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