Saranna sighed and stood up slowly, turning away from the sea to look out across the empty lands to the east, then south, where two roads went rolling away over low, barren hills, one to Sharn the Godless city, one to distant IssKor. Then she looked northward along the main road that stretched silently away into a dim haziness. A flicker of movement was visible in the haze. As she looked, it grew clearer and Saranna thought she could hear a faint sound of hoof beats. Gradually the sound grew louder, and the vague shapes solidified until she saw clearly that a small company of people on horse-back was coming towards her. Dust billowed around them, and they swept down rapidly, nearer and nearer, until they drew level with her. One of the riders saw her, raised one hand, and cried, ‘Halt!’

The whole company drew up, not very tidily, and the horses blew and snorted and tossed their heads up and down, while the riders peered at Saranna standing on the lower road and looking at them. Finally a tall man on a particularly splendid grey horse dismounted and handed his reins to someone to hold. Slowly he crossed the rough ground between the two roads; Saranna could not see his face, for he wore a broad-brimmed hat, and was looking down, picking his path among the clumps of marram-grass.



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