The Long Retreat No. 83

Birdsong woke him. It was early morning. His head felt like a mass of wadded cotton, and his throat was tight and dry. He swallowed painfully and rolled over.

The world swam, slowly coming into focus. He turned his head to one side, waited for his vision to settle, and saw the signs of his passage. Short, leafy plants lined the side of the gully beneath the outcrop from which he had plunged. A trail of crushed stems marked where he’d slid down.

He moved his arm and winced, but the pain in his side never came. Gingerly, he touched his wounds and held his hand up in front of his face. No blood. Wondering even as he moved if it was a good idea, he sat up.

Birdsong woke him. He pulled himself over to a tree, sliding along the floor of the gully. He raised himself to sitting by increments, leaning against the tree trunk. He drained the waterskin hanging from his belt and felt a little better.

He looked down at his side and blinked. The deep gashes had nearly closed. Bits of plant from the hillside were stuck in and around the wound, and Falthejn nearly laughed aloud. Fate was evidently watching out for him still. Even going mad on ontlig poison, his magic had put his feet on just the right track to keep him alive.

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