The Old One patted the pallet beside him. “Sit nephew. I have words to tell you.” I sat down beside him with my back also against the logs of the chapel wall. We half turned towards each other. The Old One looked at me. He said nothing for a long moment. He breathed out a deep sigh. Then he began to speak. “Nephew, the reading of the talking leaves is done. The Fansiskvn will expect my answer tomorrow. His patience is worn more thread bare than his filthy brown robe.”
The Old One reached under the furs and pulled out two small hidden pots. He sat them between us. He shed the blanket he had wrapped around his shoulders. His waist was bare beneath the blanket. He lifted the lid of one of the little pots. I smelt the pungent aroma of bear fat. I knew what must be in the other pot.
“Mvhvlv, no!” I said.
“Little Bird, nephew, the time of my passing is come. I am blessed for I chose it. A man may embrace his fate, or he may flee it – but no matter which he does, wherever he goes, that is where he was meant to be. I have chosen you for this honor. Anoint my face and arms and torso.”
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