Here’s chapter two of the rewrite of the rewrite of the…
Patreo motioned Verduan inside. Verduan’s eyes grew wide as he scanned Patreo’s workbench with its balms and salves and powders and distilling vessels placed within easy reach, his shelves of open and stoppered flasks, drying herbs, books; Patreo’s cottage held more of study than of sleep. His nose twitched at the pungent aires coming from Patreo’s mortar and pestle and he focused his attention there.
“What can I do for you, Verduan of Nant?”
“You are Father Patreo?”
“Patreo of Tomeka, yes. And anointed in the Occitan Order, yes.” Patreo waved a hand over his workbench. “Does this disturb you?”
“I expected an older man. This is your rectory?”
“This is my home. Where I study.”
“Where is your church?”
“I’m in disfavor with the bishopric.” Patreo kept his eyes on Verduan’s face. “At present.”
Verduan looked up and met Patreo’s gaze. He smiled weakly and swallowed.
Patreo motioned to a stool in front of his workbench. “Perhaps some wine after your long journey. It must have taken you, what, seven days to get here?”
Verduan sat mechanically. “Five.”
Patreo lifted a pitcher and poured wine into a goblet. He uncorked a flask on a shelf and dribbled some liquid into the goblet before handing it to Verduan.
The big man sipped. “Thank you.” He swallowed a mouthful. “Your wine is good. Sweet. Flowery. It’s taste is unfamiliar. What fruit bears this wine?” He downed a second mouthful.
“Poppy juice. To help you relax after your trip.” Patreo held the flask under Verduan’s nose. “What story hurries you from Nant to Tomeka in five days time?”
Verduan let his pack slide from his shoulders and lowered his staff to the hard planked floor. “My son. And his espoused. They are cursed for chopping off the hand of witch.”
Patreo took Verduan’s goblet, refilled it, and handed it to him. “Tell me more.”
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