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There was no alternative to walking, so Agra learned to leave camp before dawn, pace herself, and grit her teeth through the pain.
When Vaega and Trion woke up with the sunrise, Agra was already gone, with spear and bag, out looking for whatever she could find.
Trion went into the woods just outside camp to cut trees for lumber. The meat was plentiful now, and they ate well, gaining muscle, feeling stronger.
Vaega walked to the garden, which was mostly replanted. The foxes had dug holes and uprooted entire rows, but Vaega took it in stride and salvaged what she could, using more of her precious seeds to replace those destroyed by the frenzied foxes.
She went looking around the camp for what to do, and to clear her mind. She had not had time for herself and she felt it in her soul. Trion worked all day and Agra was gone from morning to night, having to range farther to find usable debris or berries. She noticed that there was more snow on the mountains in the distance. Shielding her eyes from the sun, she let her gaze travel across the distant peaks, trying to evaluate how much more there really was.
Trion walked over after dropping some planks next to the new kitchen and food storage he was building.
He glanced at her, then looked at the mountains as well. “See anything?”
Vaega kept her hand up and her eyes in the distance. “There’s more snow. The weather might turn wetter and colder.”
“It’s in the mountains. Maybe the weather is different up there.” Trion said.
“Maybe. But we should be ready. We need warmer clothes.”
Trion nodded, remaining silent.
Vaega turned to him. “There’s a lot to do, Trion. It’s easy to just stay busy and forget that we need rest.”
Trion nodded, but didn’t say anything. As he turned away, Vaega reached her left hand to his arm. Her hand closed around his wrist. He stopped and turned toward her again. She was looking up into his eyes and he could not read hers.
“You should rest, relax, find happiness sometimes.”
Trion took a deep breath. “I will, in time, but not yet.”
Vaega let go of his arm. “When?”
Trion turned his face toward the kitchen building and lifted his chin. “When the rooms are done.”
Vaega took a step closer. Their bodies were almost touching. “I will be patient, then.”
Trion did not step away. For an instant, he thought about not working on the buildings for the rest of the afternoon. His right hand came up and rested on Vaega’s waist. “Soon. I promise.”
Trion withdrew his hand and walked resolutely to the pile of planks, intent on building.
Vaega stood, luxuriating in the memory of the touch of Trion’s warm hand. Then she remembered the plants, the need for food, and hunting. She turned to the gate where she had left her bow and arrows.
Agra was standing at the gate, looking at her.
“Agra! You’re back! Did you bring anything?”
Agra kept looking at Vaega. “I saw you and Trion.”
Vaega kept walking to her bow. “You did?”
Agra smiled wryly. “I am happy for you both.”
“Are you?” Vaega asked, looking into Agra’s eyes. “Your eyes tell a different story.”
Agra stopped smiling and let her pain rip through her face. “My leg hurts so much.”
“I am so sorry,” Vaega said.
Agra stiffened, fighting the urge to lie down. “I’m okay. I’ll be okay.”
Trion had come back and immediately picked Agra up in his arms as she fell to the ground.
Vaega took the bag and spear and followed them. Agra felt her leg suddenly cramp up and she let out a low, plaintive moan.
Trion laid Agra down on her bed in the new cabin. It was much better built and more spacious than the first. He massaged her leg gently to work out the tight knot he could feel just below the skin. Agra’s face gradually relaxed. The furrows on her forehead easing at last.
“In my bag.” She pointed at it. “I found herbs, plants.”
Vaega kneeled next to the bag and searched it. She pulled out a dark green leafy plant with a clump of dirt dangling from its roots. “This?”
“Yes. I think I saw it in the Imperial Herbary Guide. It might be good for the pain.”
Trion stood up again. “I will go work.” He left the cabin.
“I’ll check,” Vaega said. “You went out early looking for these, yes?”
Agra moved her legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. “Yes. I was hoping I could find something—”
“Oh!” Vaega said. “Look!”
She was pointing at a page in the Herbary. “This is what you found. It’s called Genoresis Macraw. It says it’s a good painkiller.”
“Does it show how to take it?”
“The dried leaves can be rolled and smoked,” Vaega said. “Easy enough.”
“Can we try with those?” Agra pointed at the leaves.
Vaega and Agra went to the fire and laid out the leaves on flat rocks just out of reach of the flames. After a few moments, the leaves were brownish and thin. Vaega wrapped a few of them tightly, tying them with a thin leather strand, then lit one end. A small flame jumped into the smoke, but she blew it out. A bitter odor rose around them.
“Try a little?” Vaega gave the smoking roll to Agra.
Agra took the roll and brought it to her lips. She hesitated, but remembering the pain, she puffed on the roll.
She coughed for several minutes. After that, she stood and looked at Vaega.
“I don’t feel any more pain.”
Next chapter: Electricity
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