Padaver awoke to perspiration soaked sheets. He didn’t recall lying down on the strange bed. Attempting to rise, he remembered all too well the pain in his side. Carefully peeling back the padding, he saw his wound had been skilfully stitched. With an amount of effort, he worked his way backwards, propping himself on the piled pillows behind him. His new position gave him a panoramic view of the bush beyond the open balcony doors.
The side door opened, revealing a robed man with flared white sideburns.
“Ah good, you have regained consciousness. Padaver; is it not?”
“I am Abbot Manfry. You came to us in quite a state, but fear not, you are safe now.”
Another younger monk, entered the room, holding a steaming bowl and a spoon. The dark brown eyes displayed both strength and gentleness. Clearly Nusallean, the young monk had a frame swelling his robes like a Blue River Guardsman’s surcoat.
He remembered him; he wore a sword on the plain, but not now. Padaver snapped his head aside in both directions.
Manfry smiled. “It is safely stored in our armoury. We do not permit anyone to wear weapons within our doors. It will be returned to you when you have fully recovered.”
“I would like to thank the man who saved my life.”
“That would be Brother Lytica here.”
“Please take him to the balcony while I change his sheets,” said Manfry.
He took the bowl out to the balcony, then returned, sliding his brawny arms under Padaver. Using little effort, Lytica carried Padaver outside and placed him in a chair, facing a small table.
“Feel free to eat. I will be back in a moment,” said Lytica.
Padaver dipped his spoon in the viscous soup, and brought it to his lips. It tasted quite savoury, thick, yet devoid of meat. Presently, Lytica returned, covering him in a blanket.
“This is good,” said Padaver.
Lytica grinned. “Is is not? Brother Valmaas works wonders in the kitchen. Even potato soup is something to behold when herbs are added from his garden.”
His voice sounded to young suit his body.
“How old are you?”
“28,” said Lytica. “I have been with the order for over a year.”
Manfry returned. “I have changed your bedding. For now, I have other duties in my office, so I will leave you two to get acquainted.”
He left Padaver to take a few more sips from his soup, when he noted the roughened hands of his young host.
“Are you from the tribes?”
“Aye, the Brown Snake clan. Do you know of it?”
“I have heard of it,” said Padaver. “What is this place?”
“You are in the Cuslava monastery, and we are monks of the way.”
“I am Padaver, of the Magpie tribe,” he said extending his hand.
Lytica accepted it in a firm wrist lock.
“One of your monks came to our village once.”
“It would have been of a different order. We are not responsible for your region. How did you come to be here?”