Out in the southern reaches of the desert, the host of the Sguush was stirring as the sun returned. Stretching arms and legs stiffened by the cold night air, men, women and children moved slowly and silently about their business. Small rations of food and a swallow of water were allotted to the youngest and oldest. Everyone else tightened the sashes of their robes, and got on with lading their belongings onto the backs of their donkeys. At the tent of the Old One, the Firsts awaited her commands for the day; but there was no change. ‘We go south,’ she said, and they responded dutifully; ‘We go south.’
As the long straggle of people and goats and donkeys set off, a handful of carrion birds began to circle above them, each widening sweep carrying them, too, towards the south.
the dry well