AN: Hi, so this is the first chapter in a new trilogy I'm writing. I'm a semi-professional author (meaning that people buy my book, but if I tried to live off the earnings I'd starve), and this story is a completely new direction for me, so I'd love to hear some feedback. I didn't know what genre to call it - it's set in a made up time and place, and there'll be battles and politics and quite a lot of romance, but it's not really fantasy or historical or romance at the same time. Opinions welcome. Anyway, hope you enjoy it, and I'll post more as soon as it's ready.

Chapter One

Northtown, Anar

"You hate me," Tarrin panted at his oldest nemesis, as he threw another bucket-load of water. "Don't deny it. You sit there all thorny all day, and plot ways to make my life a misery, no matter what I do! What do you want! Blast the day the All grew you!" He shouldn't have said that, technically. Everything had a place in the All. Though what possible benefit gorse might offer anything, Tarrin couldn't fathom. Except for raging crop-fires. It was of great benefit to them.

Tarrin bent to grasp another bucket of water with both hands, groaning as he lifted it and clutched it to his middle. He'd run out of handled ones. Still, he stood for a second, and planned his next strike strategically.

The flames…well, the flames looked in about the same condition as they had when he'd started half an hour ago. He simply could not tell if he'd made any progress or not. The blaze covered an area roughly twice the size of his house, around thirty paces by…something less than thirty. A bloody large fire; he wished he'd noticed it sooner. A man could hardly stare from his window all day, scanning the hills for smoke, but it almost seemed as though that was necessary in this weather. He had switched tactics a number of times in the course of the battle. First he had tried dousing the flames themselves, but the fire was too expansive for that, and it ate up new areas of gorse as fast as he put patches out. Then he had tried soaking the bushes at the edge of the fire, in the hopes of containing the blaze until it burned itself out, but the heat of the flames had dried the living tinder that was gorse almost immediately and started setting it alight again.

Now, he decided it was time for a combination of the two approaches. He took a deep breath and prayed silently to the All that this worked, because if it didn't… His own crops might remain safe, however far out of control the fire became. The wheat-field behind him started a solid ten paces away from the edge of the gorse; he always kept the scourge well cut-back. His crops might remain safe, but then again if the wind blew the wrong way, or the wrong tree caught alight…they may not. And even if they did survive, if he didn't get a handle on this fire soon it would engulf the whole hill. The Conhanas' fields, the Gurtahays', the Doltalis'… This fire could eat many livelihoods, and he could end up owing a lot of people a lot of money if he was judged to have been negligent. Where in the blasting storm was his mother? Could she not smell the smoke at this point? He direly needed another pair of hands.

Well, for the moment it looked as though he would have to manage on his own. He sucked in a deep breath and ran in as close to the blaze as he could take, squinting as the oven-like heat tried to sear the moisture from his eyes. Barely able to see, he grunted as he threw the contents of the bucket towards the bushes at the far right edge of the fire, before turning to run a safe distance back from the flames again. He was covered in soot by this point; his torso and his feet looked as grimy as if he worked in a mine and hadn't washed in half a year. You would never have guessed that the linen cut-highs ending at his knees had once been white. Dropping the empty bucket, he picked up one of the last full ones he had lined up, a battered tin thing, then ran back up to the blaze and tossed water over the flames on the fire's left edge. This was his last resort; he hoped he may somehow be able to constrict the fire into extinction. He had never fought a fire this vast by himself before though, so he had no idea if it would work.

Tarrin continued on with this strategy for a solid hour. He wanted nothing more than to lie down in his field and go to sleep, leaving the fire to do its worst, but instead he ran back and forth as fast as his exhausted legs would allow, sprinting all the way to the farm's water-pit when the buckets went empty, scrambling precariously over burnt gorse when the fire started to spread up the hill.

The midday sun poured blisteringly from an odd, dark blue sky that looked as though it had begun to cook somehow, and at times it felt almost as hot as the flames he fought. His skin would have been close to burnt from his back, if the past month of drought hadn't browned it to something like sun-numb wood.

But pace by pace, the huge fire miraculously started to retreat on itself. Finally, Tarrin had it cornered against a natural break in the scrub, a quarter-span from where the thing had started. As he threw the last bucketful of water a few minutes later and watched the one remaining flame extinguish with a hissing spout of steam, half of him was convinced that he had actually passed out some time ago, and this was his mind letting him have peaceful delusions as he burned to death. The other half didn't care. He dragged his burnt and scratched feet back out over the smouldering gorse and collapsed at the edge of it. His chest heaved in a sporadic rhythm as he hugged the tin bucket he'd been carrying for its coolness. He started coughing painfully, having inhaled more smoke than he'd thought, and he lay there on the hard grass until he no longer felt so much like a fraying rope about to snap. He well knew that men had died of exhaustion and smoke, fighting fires like that.

He didn't have time to die today, though. Still feeling shakier than if he hadn't eaten in a year, he turned over onto his front like a dog and pushed himself up with his hands. His farmer's fingers cringed to feel the cracked dryness of the earth, even so close to the irrigated field beside him. Only the Giver knew when this drought would break, and the Anari had survived before when it had barely rained for three seasons, however there were other lands which may not be so fortunate. And Tarrin couldn't help but consider his own profit margins if the unthinkable happened and irrigation was cut.

Managing to gain his feet, he shuffled in the rough direction of his house, knowing where his first stop would be. Slowly, he rounded the medium-sized hill which must have totally hidden the flames from sight. He aimed straight for the drinking channel a small distance from his wooden home, getting to his knees and putting his hands in the very lukewarm flowing water. He had forgotten how filthy he was, and watched with regret as the scrupulously clean stream became streaked with black for a moment. Once his hands were clean, he used a splash of water to wash off his lips, before cupping his hands and almost throwing mouthfuls down his throat, not even caring that the inside of his mouth somehow made the liquid taste sooty. He had been desperate so many times in the last hour to drink from the water-pit, and the certainty that it would have made him sick only barely restrained him. 'Sick' had almost sounded better than 'unconscious'.

He stayed kneeling over the limestone-lined drinking channel for some time, hoping water would make him feel vaguely normal again. He only rose when he heard the barking, panting approach of his giant wolfhound, Howler. The excitable creature was hard enough to deal with standing. "Hey, boy," he greeted the dog when it bounded up to him, rubbing Howler's ears whilst trying to ensure that all four of his long paws stayed firmly on the ground. He could have sworn he saw concern in the hound's brown eyes at the feebleness of his efforts.

"Oh, you're… What happened!" came the sound of his mother's voice. Tarrin looked up to see her standing at a downstairs window of their log-built house. "Was there a fire?"

"No," replied Tarrin sarcastically. "I decided to celebrate Noocta early."

His mother ignored him. "Is it out? It didn't get any crops, did it?"

"Yeah, it's out," Tarrin sighed. "Took a while. And no, it was just gorse. Where did you think I was?"

"Well I just assumed you were tinkering with something again. I was about to go and look for you. Couv and the children are here; she has a job for you from the boys."

"I know. I'll be in in a minute."

She regarded him somewhat dubiously. "Okay. Make sure you wash first."

Tarrin sighed again. "I was just about to." His mother was great at those sorts of commands. Her favourite was 'don't burn the food', as if he was such an idiot that the idea of not burning food had never occurred to him before. He knew his mother loved him, but he was also fairly certain that she thought he was as dumb as a new-born donkey. Or at least as helpless.

"Okay, okay," she replied placatingly, and disappeared inside the house.

"Come on, then," Tarrin absently beckoned Howler. He started towards the stone fire-shed with the lopey dog bouncing along beside him, occasionally throwing up an enthusiastic paw that nearly tripped him. Tarrin hoped his hound would grow out of this hyperactivity at some point; Howler was only a year old yet. He certainly could not be trusted in the fire-shed as he was now however, so Tarrin shooed him away when they reached the door. Howler complied, with a booming bark of complaint that seemed to echo from the hills to the sparkling sea and back again.

Tarrin winced as he stepped into the fire-shed and closed the door behind him. The heat of the fire at its centre was lessened slightly by the uncovered window, but it was still stiflingly hot on such an airless day. There were three large wooden wash-jugs already filled with water sitting on the floor under the window, and Tarrin plucked a copper tongs from its hook on the wall. He used it to carefully remove three fist-sized granite rocks from the fire-pit one at a time, and deposit one each in the three jugs, keeping back from the spouts of hot steam that resulted. Putting only one rock in each of the jugs would make the water lukewarm at best, but Tarrin felt much more in the mood for getting cooled down than warmed up. While he was waiting for the water to heat properly, he tied the gauzy linen privacy cover over the window, just in case Couv decided to let the children play outside, and locked the door. But impatient and horribly hungry, he quickly took a tin sieve from a shelf and fished out the now-broken rock fragments from the water, tossing them in a bucket in the corner to be used again.

Tarrin slipped out of his blackened sandals, then untied his formerly white cut-highs at the back and pulled them off, noticing that somehow even his underclothes had sustained soot damage. He took these off too, and placed his clothes on a shelf, though the likelihood of them ever being wearable again was slim. Standing on the sloped stone floor of the washing corner, he hefted one of the knee-high, very heavy jugs by a copper handle and a hand on the base. He lifted the jug high and upended it over himself. Squeezing his eyes closed, he savoured the coolness of the water as it seemed to put out previously ignored fires in his sore skin. He could physically feel the grime washing down his face from his hair.

He opened his eyes to see that the stone slabs beneath his feet were now greyer than they had been, and his skin and tattoos were still obscured by patches of greasy darkness. Tarrin did not have many tattoos for an Anaran, one of the number of things for which his friends made fun of him, but he had a few. A large golden eagle taking flight across his chest, a small wildcat sniffing the air in profile in the middle of his back, the sun and its rays in black and white near the shoulder of his right arm, and black spiral patterning reminiscent of a river on the front of his left leg, at the very top. He hadn't been entirely comfortable getting that last one, however it was traditional for most Anari to have a so-called 'one-look' – a tattoo for the benefit of lovers and shown to friends only once, if at all. He had held off until he was seventeen, but at that point the teasing had simply become too much to take. Besides, he did like it; he just always had trouble believing that women really found it…enticing.

Grabbing his bar of pine-scented soap from its dish on a shelf, Tarrin scrubbed it vigorously through his hair and over the rest of him, until both he and the soap were covered in a disgusting sort of grey lather. It took all of the water in the remaining two jugs to wash it off, but finally when he looked down at himself, he seemed to be clean. No doubt he had missed some obvious patch somewhere that Couv would point out, however that was to be expected. He took his towels from their hooks and quickly patted himself half-dry, leaving enough water to keep his skin cool. Remembering that his clothes were too soiled to wear without having to wash again, he tied the larger towel around his hips and uncovered the window. He reached into a wicker basket and tossed some extra slow-burning wood into the fire, before grabbing his clothes and leaving the stifling fire-shed, bolting the door behind him.

He walked all the way around his log-built house to the front door, and opened it to see his mother, Couv and the three children milling around the kitchen. "Tarrin!" exclaimed little Cana, looking for a second like she was going to hug him, but then she thought better of it considering his wet-towelled state. "Hey, Cana," he said, as he crossed the cool granite flagstones to the other side of the kitchen. "Hey, Couv. I'll be back down in a minute."

He was already behind schedule for the day. He pushed aside the lilac wallsheet dividing the kitchen from the living room, and half-ran up nearly vertical steps to the upper floor. In his room, he donned white cut-highs, a black vest and his second pair of working sandals. He wasn't even vaguely tempted to light up a reflecting pool and look at himself – he was probably still covered in soot and he didn't have time to clean it. He would rather not know. Grabbing a fistful of coins from his wooden chest without checking what they were, Tarrin raced out of his room and back down the steps.

"Ah," said Couv when he returned to the kitchen, "here you are." She stood at the table in white cut-highs and a yellow shortvest that left most of her tattooed stomach bare. She was as thin and toned as when she was sixteen; you would never guess that body had borne three children. But then Tarrin couldn't imagine Couv ever letting herself go. One-year-old Lin sat fidgeting on a wool blanket beside her.

"Sorry. There was a fire," he explained, thoroughly irritable by that point. His stomach felt as though it had a hole in it that was slowly absorbing his will not to simply lie down on the stone floor and expire. His heart skipped a beat as he bent to shift the huge flagstone over the coolpit, with limbs bearing as much strength as twigs. He had to pause for a moment, sighing and wiping sweat from his brow.

"Oh, here, Tarrin," exclaimed his mother, apparently just noticing his state, "sit down!"

"Thanks," he said, before pulling out a chair and gratefully flopping onto it.

"Tarrin, will you bring me out to see the trees?" asked Cana, bouncing up and down beside him with her hands on the table.

Tarrin looked over at her. "I'm not sure I'll have time to today, Cana," he answered, trying to sound very sorry about it. He took hold of her small arms and spun her around a bit. "I have to go and get Kiesan's roof for him." He didn't have to feign his annoyance, there.

His mother was reaching down into the coolpit, and gave him that meaningful look she often employed when she saw him with his friends' children. That look that said 'those should be your children'. He figured she just did it out of habit at this point; it had to be clear to her by now that disapproving glances did not grandchildren make. His terrible choices with women were not mistakes he made on purpose to deprive her. "But I'm sure Mother will bring you," he told Cana. "Won't you, Mother?"

"Oh, of course," she replied absently, pulling out what looked to be most of their stored food. Bread, meat, fresh milk and cheese and early summer fruits were all arranged on the ground beside her before she slid the flagstone back in place. "Lunch for everyone," she announced, standing and transferring the feast to the table.

"Mmm." Tarrin immediately tore a chunk off a loaf of bread and stuck a lump of cheese in his mouth. Some blackcurrants had followed it before he'd even finished chewing. The combination tasted tangy and odd, but Tarrin barely noticed.

"Oh, none for me, thanks;" said Couv, "I'd better be going. Thanks again for watching the children for me, Roa."

His mother laughed. "It's no problem. It's always nice to have the little ones around." That may or may not have been a pointed comment for Tarrin's benefit; he'd lost the ability to tell.

"Where are you going?" Tarrin asked, piling cheese and salted mutton on some bread. He'd thought she was going to be at Kiesan's new house, but it didn't sound like it.

"To help my friend Bal finish up with some Highsun outfits."

Bal… Bal the tailor. He vaguely remembered her. Great backside. "Leaving it a bit late, isn't she?" Highsun was tomorrow.

Couv pulled a face, widening her big hazel eyes and scowling exaggeratedly. Couv had a very expressive face for someone whose emotions normally ranged from mildly annoyed to moderately excited. "Yes, well. I think her apprentice was sick with the same thing poor Muav has, and it put her behind. Then, she knew this a week ago, but…" Couv finished with one of her conspiratorial, long-suffering looks, to which Tarrin responded, "Hnn." He looked over at four-year-old Muav, huddled against a low cabinet, who did indeed appear the worse for wear, sullenly wiping his nose with his hand. "Hey, you alright, little man?"

The boy nodded with his eyes staring off in another direction.

"Have you brought him to a physician?" he asked. Deem and Couv could both be rather flippant about illness, considering Deem would be capable of not noticing if you turned up one day without a foot, and Couv had never suffered anything worse than a sneezing fit.

"No. I will if it hasn't started to clear up by tomorrow," she replied, sounding a bit concerned and reaching out to put a hand to Muav's forehead. When she looked back at Tarrin, her eyes narrowed in confusion. "Tarrin, what have you…?" She sighed.

Tarrin sighed dementedly back when she went to pick up a rag, asked his mother if she could use it and poured some water over it. He did his best to ignore her, and continued eating his lunch as she scrubbed roughly at his neck, cheeks and ears, even working the cloth into the two gold rings inserted in the centres of his earlobes. Cana and Muav giggled happily, and Lin joined in too, though she surely didn't know what she was laughing at.

"There; much better," said Couv finally. She tossed the rag in the laundry box in the corner, and told the children she'd be back in a while. She had a quick word with Tarrin's mother about Muav before she left, while Tarrin continued wolfing down his lunch, and then made her way to the door once everything was sorted out. "See you tomorrow then, Tarrin. Everything's in there," she added as Tarrin was about to ask, pointing towards a small cloth purse on the table. "Directions, too."

"Okay. Bye!"

Lin started fussing after the door closed behind her, and Cana went over to try to calm her, in her own way. "You're being silly, Lin. Mamma will be back soon…"

Tarrin went on scoffing his way through more food than he'd sometimes eat in a day, while his mother and the children sat and finished almost everything that didn't end up in his mouth.

Eventually, lunch thoroughly finished, Tarrin gathered everything he'd need for his day's travails, filling a water-skin and tying the small purse to his upper arm. He added his own money to it in addition to the six gold pennies left him by Kiesan and Iesh, and grabbed his light wood-whistle for the walk. He would have taken his juggling balls, but they were more of a hassle to store, and soon enough he'd have something large to carry. He sighed as he pulled out the directions left him, and saw that he'd be trekking to the east of town, far from his place on the Coast Road, to a reed-weaver's he'd never heard of before. He said goodbye to his mother and the children, and set off down the steeply sloping path from his house to the road, telling Howler repeatedly to go home when the dog tried to follow him.

It was the start of the afternoon, and the road to town was busy. People passed by in rickshaws pulled by hounds as tall as his chest, and the occasional ox-wagon filled with goods passed too, late in the trading day as it was. The trundle of heavy waterbarrel wagons on the hard-packed earth never seemed far away, over the wispy notes of his flute. Irrigation water now came solely from leftover drinking water, and the wagons bearing the barrels of liquid livelihood made their journeys back uphill to town almost incessantly. Most on the road, whether shoppers or the fit fourteen year-old boys manning the water wagons, had parasols or wide-brimmed hats for protection from the sun. Tarrin probably should have had something too, but he always felt rather soft when he covered up. He was a farmer, for All's sake - if he couldn't deal with the sun, who could? Heat had lost all meaning to him, and he simply put one foot in front of the other in the dust, trying not to walk in time with his whistle-playing lest it look like he was dancing. Not his favourite instrument, but he did know a few catchy tunes.

Finally, after the usual forty minutes or so, he came to the edge of the town proper, where the road became paved and traders had to tether their oxen or mules in guarded yards. But here he diverged from his usual route, and left the road overlooking the sea to turn inland. He was almost grateful to put the bright water at his back; the sights and distant sounds of people having fun in the sea below were making his walk seem more dreary. The directions said to take the In Road to the far edge of the The In-Houses, and to find building… Tarrin fished out the sheet of paper from the purse he'd been given. Building ANEn28.

Tightly packed rectangular mansions and roundhouses in the old suburbs gave way to small houses in later-built areas, and finally medium-sized places farther out, where there was space. Stopping his whistle-playing, Tarrin had to ask directions from an old woman for the 'n' area, and then ran around like a fool for a while once there, spinning on his heel to check all houses in the badly demarcated district. Finally, Tarrin saw a bundle of reeds tied to a stick on the roof of a building, the reedweavers' marking, and he took a few grateful gulps from his waterskin before he started towards it.

In front of the house, a young man sat in a chair holding a small baby, under the shade of a large parasol. The fella looked very groggy, leaned back with his legs splayed and his eyes closed, wearing only his cut-highs. He held the baby to his chest firmly, though, so he must have been awake. Perhaps he was the reedweaver. Reedweavers were usually women, but he certainly looked pale enough to be one.

The fella heard Tarrin approaching and looked up, squinting at him strangely. "Tarrin?" he asked after a moment.

Tarrin smiled in surprise and squinted back. "Yeah?" The black-haired fella did look sort of familiar, but he couldn't place him.

"It's Gahal," he said, glancing down at the baby suddenly and lowering his voice. "Gahal Cronmooriv."

"Oh; hey!" Tarrin said, trying to exclaim while keeping his voice down. "How are you?" Tarrin hadn't seen Gahal in…about six years. He grew up on a nearby farm, and their fathers had been friends. Tarrin used to watch Gahal when he was small, and had tutored him in numbers when he was a bit older. He supposed Gahal must have been about eighteen now. He'd always been a very nice, well-mannered boy, and Tarrin had sometimes wondered what became of him. He'd left his home when he was twelve for an apprenticeship, and had never lived there again, as far as Tarrin knew.

"I'm good. Busy, as you can see," he said, with a nod down at the baby. "What have you been up to? Heard you have a good business going with fruit and things?"

Yes, everyone seemed to have heard he had money. Fewer people would have heard if he'd been eaten by a bear. "Yeah, yeah, I do," he replied, stopping by Gahal's chair, under the welcome shade of the parasol. It almost felt chilly in comparison. "Keeps me working, anyway. Always have to be checking on something." On closer inspection, Tarrin saw that the baby was very small indeed; less than a month old, by the look of it. "Your first?" he asked.

Gahal's face split in a wider smile than Tarrin ever remembered him having as a boy, and he nodded. "Two weeks old. We called him Dova. Not getting much sleep, but…" He shrugged. "He seems to be more or less perfect, so, we're happy."

Tarrin smiled. "Well, congratulations."

Gahal gave a laugh. "Thanks. What brings you here, anyway? Looking for some reed-mats?"

"Yeah, I'm here to pick up an order, actually. Are you the reedweaver?"

Gahal chuckled, carefully getting to his feet. "No, that's my wife, Sala. I work for the Wosh moneylenders these days."

Tarrin was pleased to hear that. Gahal had been talented with numbers, and Tarrin had helped to teach them to him. "And she managed to get the order done?" Tarrin asked incredulously.

Gahal laughed again. "No; definitely not. Her aunt did most of it; she's a reedweaver too. Hang on, I'll get it for you. Sala asked me to let her sleep," he explained with a slight grimace. "Is this the order for, ahh…"

"Kiesan Sandbeach," Tarrin supplied.

"Right, yeah. Just a minute." Gahal went inside, taking the baby with him, and re-emerged a moment later carrying the rolled up reed-mats. The price was five gold pennies, and Tarrin regretted that he had to decline when Gahal asked him to stay for some mead, short on time as he was. He said he'd try to stop by the Vin tavern if he was in town of a Ninthday evening; Gahal said he was often there. He also said that he'd been sorry to hear about Tarrin's father, which was the first time in a long while Tarrin had had someone say that to him. It had been five years, now. But hearing someone say they were sorry for him still managed to bring his mind right back to those days.

His walk back to town was less than comfortable, with the heavy, wide reed-mats tied awkwardly to his back and carried awkwardly in his arms. Passers-by looked disgruntled as they dance passed him on the busy roads, and once a clumsy hound crashed headlong into one of the rolls, thankfully not damaging it too badly. The weariness that had clung to him since the morning started to drag on him heavier with every step, and the sun was still growing hotter rather than cooler. He felt like a plucked chicken slowly turning himself in an oven. No matter how late he was, it was time for a snack, and something sweet. When he reached the edge of town, he shuffled towards the centre instead of turning south, knocking into people in the busy streets and finding himself mad at them rather than apologetic. Wood buildings and brick buildings and stone buildings passed almost without his notice until he reached the confectionary shop he sought, with its outdoor stand for customers in summer. He queued up, and the person behind him sighed when he ordered a raspberry sweetmilk, with all its crushing and mixing, but as he sat squashed up in a small free space in the South Green a while later, he remembered how worth the wait it was.

But finally, after savouring the creamy drink for a long while, he decided that he to be on his way, however weary he was still. He hoped Kiesan and Iesh appreciated this. He had no room to hang onto the wooden cup, and simply left it on the browning grass where he'd been sitting, in the narrow sliver of shade next to the wall of a building. He trudged back the way he'd come and managed to avoid hitting quite so many people. He was at the south edge of town when he heard an unwelcome shout of, "Tarrin!"

He turned unenthusiastically and saw the merchant Bram, standing at the side of the street. A beer-bellied man who smiled at people as he fleeced them, and grimaced in powerlessness when he was really pushing it. Tarrin would ideally rather not have had business dealings with him, but he was the main fruit and vegetable exporter to the icy island of Dioz, where people paid shocking prices for the exotic fruit Tarrin cultivated. "Hi, Bram."

"Did you not bring in any stock today?"

"No, not today. Tomorrow morning, for the festival."

"What are you bringing?"

"Everything. Oranges, lemons, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries…"

"Blackberries!" exclaimed Bram. "But it's only midsummer! How have you managed that?"

"Same way I manage the other things," Tarrin said, purposefully not giving much away, and sort of hating himself for being that person. "Made them get confused about the seasons, I think."

Bram shook his head, chuckling wonderingly. "Bless you, lad. I used to have to go all the way to Onsal for citrus fruits, and I could barely sell them fresh even here, never mind up north. Do you think there'll be much left for me tomorrow?" he added suddenly, as if it had just occurred to him. "Who are you planning on selling to?"

Tarrin sighed awkwardly. "Whoever has the best price, I suppose. I do want there to be enough for the festival treats, though."

Bram sighed, clearly not pleased by that. "Fair enough," he said. "I'll try to catch you good and early."

"Okay. See you then." Tarrin gave him a wave as he was turning away.

"Have a good day," Bram wished him, in his accent that sounded vaguely threatening no matter what he was saying, and which wealth would never erase.

Tarrin was nothing but pleased to be leaving business alone for the day. He continued down the Coast Road on his way to Kiesan's new house, and decided that he was going to take a lie down somewhere when he got there.