Comarin the hermit rocked back and forth on his heels. He rubbed the pouch containing his last pieces of root between two bony fingers.
“Not much hope really, I guess,” he muttered to himself. “No sense wasting these others if that one didn’t work. Besides, you never know when I might need em myself. Not that I’d begrudge it to you, of course.”
The old man squinted in the candlelight and bent down close to the sleeping woman’s face.
“Your name is Daesha.” He smiled. “Pretty name. Yes, and it is you isn’t it?” With one finger he brushed the woman’s hair out of her too familiar face. “I haven’t been out there alone that long, you know. I’m not all that mad, not yet. But what can I do? You need the deeproot and I haven’t got it. No way of getting it either.”
Comarin picked his stick up from where it lay beside him and jammed it into the dirt floor of the hut. It jittered under his weight as he hauled himself up. He crossed the room, refilled the wooden bowl with water from the basin and soaked the cloth again. The river water was so cool against Daesha’s hot brow that she gave a little moan and turned her head away from his touch.
“Shh. Yes, I don’t blame you.” He wiped gently, almost lovingly at her face. “What do you see, I wonder? Can’t say I don’t envy you just a little bit.”
Comarin cocked his head and listened intently. There was no sound other than the wind that nightly blew through the canyon, but the old man shook his head as though he disagreed with what it said.
“I’m old. Not right in the head, you know. What would I be able to do?” He pondered a moment more. “It will come down to the boy, I suppose. He seems a puny young thing.”
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