RELEASED October 2015 299 pages
The lack of rain over the last three years had left the land looking parched. The trees had shed their leaves in order to conserve what little water they could glean from the dry soil and the yellow-green grass crackled underfoot when walked upon. Much of the bird and animal life had moved on in order to find more productive pickings.
In the midst of this dry country, where the Kings Road met the Northern Way, stood the small farming community of Thistledowne. This simple town existed as a resting place for weary travellers, the only reason the town had survived the drought for as long as it had. Thistledowne boasted a small inn, a blacksmith, a little church and, at its centre, the now grassless village green. The people of Thistledowne lived in basic wooden houses topped with thatched roofs, working small farms on the land around the town. The biggest event that had ever happened in Thistledowne occurred in the previous spring when King Leopold and his entourage passed through on their way to more important places. The town had suffered through drought before knowing that the rains would come eventually, but if they did not come soon the growing season would be missed again, and next winter would be difficult.
Their farm was not like the others in the district. It did not have fields of corn or maize but instead remained in its natural state with small trees, shrubs and grasses. These provided Myrle with all that she needed to help and heal the townsfolk while a small vegetable garden behind the house provided for their own needs. Camille walked slowly among the trees, her eyes searching the ground for the faint hint of red in the dark shadows that would indicate her quarry. The lack of rain made it harder to find the herbs she sought but she knew that she would find what she was after. She passed an old oak with roots deep enough to seek out the moisture it needed. A flash of red in the shadows caught her attention. Ducking under the low branches and creeping into the darkness, she found her quarry – a patch of nightweed.
One farm did not suffer as badly as the rest. This was the farm of Myrle Unwood, the local witch, and her only daughter, Camille. Myrle was gifted in the use of herbs, helping the villagers during times of ills or accidents, for which the townsfolk paid in food or services.