More pillars. She’d seen all the pillars in the North, they moved up high like these, and the clouds swirling above them made it seem like the heavy building was evaporating marble. This temple gleamed gold and white like all the others, and the hazy smell of incense would make all those climbing the steps from the street to the altar giddy. This place stood like a disinfecting spear from the pathetic markets strewn over all over this city: every citizen lived in just as much poverty as the next, the vast majority of the populace was impoverished and diseased, selling whatever pathetic goods travellers brought as they blew in and out of the city-limits.

Narsh stood in the markets, watching the temple in the corner of her eyes, her strange clothes largely ignored. Who cares about what a stranger wears when they’re paying your way out of the mines?

The temple was largely open, housing few walls, what shelter it did provide was from the sun. It was possible for groups of people to access the bronze roof of the structure, to dry out spices and clay tablets – to spy on the dust from the mines to the south.

A priest knelt up from the searing heat of the temple roof, his neck and eyelids slowly burning. He cast his gaze to the south, where the two slight mountains dividing the city from the mines normally deflected a black column of poisonous coal-dust back on the labourers. The sun shone through the mountains, and the priest could see the sky in the space above the mines just beyond. A thinning cloud of black dust had settled in the valley between the mountains, and teams of people appeared to emerge from the sunny black valley.


All the people who worked in the mines beyond the mountains spilled into the city, touching nothing, moving silently, filling every street. They moved towards the marble temple, and from the north trucks and many vehicles trailed dust, the mountains reflecting their sound on the city.

Sarva Narsh moved to the temple, the priest watching this from the roof. She removed a long gun holstered on her left leg, and two miners followed her when she turned and entered the temple.