Lyssa searched the hut, her numb fingers clawing through the shelves. Last spring when she had first seen the hut with its herb garden grown wild she had been afraid it might be haunted. She hadn’t gone in until she’d spied the little leather-bound book on the table, then she’d darted in and snatched it and brought it back out into the sunshine.
The drawings inside were the most beautiful she’d ever seen. Perfect leaves and blossoms, just as if she were holding a garden in her hands and not a book. She’d laid a sprig of sage she had plucked from the wild herb patch between the pages, and discovered that it was not the hut that was haunted, but the book itself.
Now a mad ghost babbled behind her as she searched.
“They burned the abbey,” Brother Amos sobbed like a child. “All the books gone, gone to ashes! All our work, all that knowledge, oh, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”’
“Brother Amos?” Lyssa pleaded, “You said there was a root that could cure my mother, Do you know where it is?”
Brother Amos wasn’t listening anymore. Perhaps he couldn’t hear her. “Do you like my garden?” he asked. “You really shouldn’t be here, though.”
That was true enough. Lyssa hadn’t known Brother Amos was going mad when she’d left home this morning. She’d trusted him, but now she wasn’t sure of anything. Even if she found something, even if he told her it was what she had come for, would she dare use it?
Under the broken frame and tattered matting that had once been a cot in the corner, Lyssa found a sturdy wooden box. Anxious, she pried the lid up and found it full of paper packets. One by one she unfolded them to find carefully dried leaves, strips of bark, and at last a tangle of reddish-black roots.
“Is this it?” Lyssa asked, “Is this what we’ve come to find?”