He woke with a judder. The pain was like a lightning flash. It zig-zagged from his neck, down his spine to his toes. He was very cold. It took time for him to divine where he was.

Grey light seeped into the cave.

He tried to sit up.  

The sharp pain in his left shoulder jabbed at him cruelly. It took away his breath. He leaned on his right elbow. The earth was damp. His left leg was throbbing. Inside it felt hot, but the flesh was chilled.

He was dazed. It was as if he were drunk from bad ale. His leggings were heavy with damp.

___

No one at Dunsinane would notice he was gone. The castle was preoccupied with the war against the Norwegians. Since his father had left with Macbeth of Glamis to fight for the King, the adults had ignored his abandoned state. He could feel the heaviness of despair in his guts. It threatened to rise into his stomach and render him useless to himself.

As he looked towards the light, he thought of his father. He conjured up the man's large warm hands, the firmness of his arms and those clear grey loving eyes. What would his father do if he were here? How would a brave Scots warrior, an inspiring leader of men, how would the great Banquo deal with the situation?

 

Fleance recalled the hunt when he and his father had dismounted and crossed a bog on foot. They had left their beasts less than a furlong away on firm ground. This morning, then, perhaps the mare he had snaffled from the stables would be grazing nearby, jangling her bridle for him to hear through the murky air.

On that day, his father had found hopes, patches of higher, firm ground. The two hunters had jumped from one hope to the next until they reached the solid rock by their steeds. Now, Fleance imagined his father saying, 'Assess the situation, Fleance. Know the dangers. Know your weakness. Then, my son, be alive to the opportunities. Play to your strengths. Find the next hope and move to it. Stay, assess, until you find another hope. Step by step, hope by hope, reach where you need to be.'

Dawn was creeping a little further into the cave. Fleance began to see where and how he was. He realized that in part, his distress was due to being cold and wet. He must gather dry leaves and kindle, and make a fire. Then he must examine his injuries. Now that he had a plan, he could take heart.

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