ii) Most of a day’s travel

Most of a day’s travel through spindly forest brings Shyan and her friends to a wide, open space, paved with enormous flat stones, webbed with cracks. Amber vegetation, low and dark, pushes through toward the crimson sun. Beyond the expanse stands the dome.

Shyan is first to see the form of a woman, sunk to her knees in front of a small pyre. Its smoldering gives off a foul odour. Shyan fights her instinct to gag, and calls out, “Hail, lady!”

The woman’s neck snaps up with incredible speed. A grin creeps across her wide, pale face. “Hail,” she croaks.

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