They began to raise the soldier, when he gripped Lytica’s arm.
“My axe,” he slurred.
“What is your name, brother?”
The soldier smiled with his eyes closed.
“Padaver. Is that so you can scribe my name on my grave?”
Loathe to brag, Lytica did not want to make the proud statement, that “none equalled the medical expertise of the Cuslava monks.”
“You are in the hands of the unknown god,” he said.
The grip on his arm relaxed. Four monks raised Padaver above their heads and began to run across the plain for the stairs. Lytica saw the tribesman’s axe lying in the grass and picked it up. He too had one that he had to throw away; not because the order required it, but from shame. Thrusting the axe into his belt, he discarded the memory. Padaver’s request was a valid one. Tribesmen had axes passed onto them through the generations.
He ran back across the plain, passing his brothers, carrying Padaver, soon reaching the stairs. Without pause, he ran up the stairs, climbing them two and three at a time. A third of a turn of the glass elapsed before he reached the top and passed within the huge arched doors. Monks looked at him questioningly from the crenelated walls as he ran across the paved outer courtyard.
The abbey remained mostly in the shadows of the mountains either side. No one in the order knew who first built the structures between the needle like pass. It merely served, both as protection and home.
His sandals scuffed on the clay tiles inside a second set of doors. Within the cavernous foyer, his hurried footsteps echoed. Monks set the tables for the next meal as others worked in the kitchen. To his right, he could see more of his brothers through a huge open arch. Using quill, ink, and parchment, they sat at their desks, making copies of the teachings of the way.
Abbot Manfry emerged from his office. Concern etched itself on the face of the old man with the overly bushy white sideburns.
“What is wrong, Brother Lytica?”
“I have to speak with, Brother Urquor.”
He said the words in passing, before pushing open a door set in the stone wall. Running through, he bypassed dozens of wooden doors on either side of a narrow corridor; quarters for the monks. At the end of the corridor, he entered a white washed room with rounded walls. A Nusallean monk, taller than the others, looked back from a cabinet stocked with medicines of his making.
“Brother Urquor, a man is sorely injured,” said Lytica.
Before Urquor could ask any questions, monks carried Padaver into the room, and placed him on the central table. The soldier muttered something unintelligible, perspiration, running from his brow.
Urquor placed a hand on his forehead.
“He is feverish. How long have you journeyed, friend?”
Padaver opened his eyes.
“Days, perhaps weeks… I cannot say.”
Urquor lifted Padaver’s shirt to inspect his wound. Blood, semi-dried, had almost permeated the bandage tied around the soldier’s lower torso.