Sen-Mar lay quiet in the heavy sun of noon. Quiet in the temple, where Callis sat brooding in the room that had been Mal-Den’s, staring at the statue of Jaren and turning a knife-blade around and around so that it bored a hole into the surface of Mal-Den’s fine ancient table. Quiet in the market-places, where no stalls were offering goods for sale and where rats squeaked about the few rotting remains of food that stank in the gutters. Quiet in the streets, since all the people who had not fled the city by road or by sea were hiding in their shuttered houses. Nothing moved; no children played; all the children who had not escaped from Sen-Mar had been rounded up by the temple guard in a few raging days of slaughter and sacrifice. Children’s blood stained the floor and walls of Jaren’s sanctuary, and the last wisps of their burning still drifted faintly out of the slits in the roof.

sue bridgwater