The Long Retreat No. 84

Unsteadily, he stood, but he was feeling better by the moment, aside from a thirst and a gnawing hunger. He went over to the plants he’d fallen through. He didn’t recognize them, so he plucked a few stems, wrapped them in a bit of cloth cut from his sleeve, and tucked them into a pouch on his belt.

A few minutes’ stumbling brought him to a small pool in his gully, fed by a brook which poured over a ledge at eye height. He drank his fill, sat heavily against a nearby tree, and planned the day ahead. If he continued to recover at this pace, he could be on the road soon, and if he could make his best speed, he could yet catch his friends. He had done his part to pull the ontlig army away from them. If he turned their way now, he would reach them not long before they crossed the river, and could keep anything from going wrong at the ford.

He leaned over and filled his waterskin. Little use in waiting around to see how he would be feeling, given how far he had to go. Best to get moving now: if he could manage the trip, he’d save a few minutes. If he couldn’t, he’d know soon enough.

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