Nothing purple presented itself that Brad could see. He looked up as Teyata sprang from a neighbouring tree and crouched to watch. She stared without committing herself, making one thing clear; he’d receive no help from her.
Her eyes rolled toward the sun. Time had almost run out.
Brad spun in circles, then saw them, fruit resembling eggplants hung like bells from central stalks only 50 metres, almost 90 degrees to his right. He winced as he tore away, unable any longer to ignore the pain, yet at the same time, lacking the luxury to either stop or slow down.
No longer had he plucked the purple fruit from the tree when Teyata landed on the ground beside him.
Teyata held out her hand. Brad lobbed it, to have her pluck it from the air.
“Sit down,” she said.
Brad complied, about to fold his legs.
“Give me your feet,” Teyata said.
He held up one foot. Teyata gripped his ankle and squeezed the sap on the sole.
“As you’ve learned with the barlus flower, some plants have the ability to numb pain, but other plants have other uses.”
She withdrew her hand. Brad lowered his leg to the ground and offered his other foot.
“The yamran plant does more than heal,” she said, cupping his heel and squeezing again. “A sip will make you sleep, but a swallow will never let you wake up.”
Brad lowered his other foot.
“It will take a little while for it to work,” said Teyata.
Not knowing what to expect, Brad leaned back on his hands to wait. He began to feel a mild itching, then burning sensation. Seconds later, it didn’t subside, but worsened. He looked inquiringly at Teyata.
“Be patient. It’ll pass,” she said. “You’ll learn that the yamran plant has another use as well.”
Agony rippled through Brad’s legs, beginning at his feet. Teyata watched him intently as beads of perspiration formed on his brow. He swallowed back the bile rising in his throat as his eyes began to water. Panting, he turned his head, for his only source of salvation; the swamp water.
“Don’t,” said Teyata.
Brad ignored her. Despite the pain, he rose and fled for the water. He made two strides before Teyata caught up and kicked his feet out from under him. Before he could rise again, Teyata bounded, crouching on his back, simultaneously slipping her forearm around his neck.
Brad clawed at the ground, desperately trying to reach the swamp, unable to progress any further with the burden of Teyata.
“Take the pain,” she hissed in his ear. “It’s doing you good.”
He attempted to swallow, instead retching at the ground. Persistent tendrils of drool trailed from his lips in unison with the tears from his eyes. His greatest torment didn’t come in the fact that he could cool his feet only a few strides away, but that he didn’t have the option of crying out.
Ever so gradually, he sensed the pain diminishing. His struggles became less; enough for Teyata to release her hold.