The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Author:Samantha Shannon
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781635570281
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: 2019-02-26T00:00:00+00:00


39

South

A caravan of forty souls was weaving through the desert. In the faint light of sundown, the sand glittered.

Bestriding a camel, Eadaz uq-Nāra watched the sky deepen to red. Her skin had tanned to a deep brown, and her hair, cut to the shoulders, was covered by a white pargh.

The caravan she had joined at the Place of Doves was now in the northern reaches of the Burlah—the stretch of desert that rolled toward Rumelabar. The Burlah was the domain of the Nuram tribes. The caravan had already crossed paths with some of their merchants, who had shared their supplies and warned that wyrms had been venturing beyond the mountains, doubtless emboldened by rumors that another High Western had been sighted in the East.

Ead had stopped at the Buried City on her way to Rauca. The Dreadmount, birthplace of wyrmkind, had been as terrible as she remembered it, jutting like a broken sword into the sky. Once or twice, as she walked between crumbled pillars, she had glimpsed the distant flicker of wings at its summit. Wyverns flocking to their cradle of life.

In the shadow of the mountain were the remains of the once-great city of Gulthaga. What little was left on the surface belied the structure beneath. Somewhere inside, Jannart utt Zeedeur had met his end in the pursuit of knowledge.

Ead had considered following him, to see if she could find out more about this Long-Haired Star, the comet that balanced the world. She had scoured the ruins for the route he had used to burrow under the petrified ash. After hours of searching, she had been close to giving up when she saw a tunnel, barely wide enough to crawl in. It was choked by a rockfall.

There would be little point in exploring. After all, she knew no Gulthaganian—but Truyde’s prophecy was a worm in her ear.

She had thought her return to the South would breathe life back into her. Indeed, her first step into the Desert of the Unquiet Dream had felt like a rebirth. Having left Valour safe in the Harmur Pass, she trekked alone through the sands to Rauca. Seeing the city again restored her strength, but it was soon lashed away by the winds that blazed off the Burlah.

Her skin had forgotten the touch of the desert. All she was now was another dusty traveler, and her memory was a mirage. Some days she almost believed that she had never worn fine silks and jewels in the court of the Western queen. That she had never been Ead Duryan.

A scorpion made a dash past her camel. The other travelers were singing to pass the time. Ead listened in silence. It had been a lifetime since she had heard anyone sing in Ersyri.

A songbird perched in a cypress tree,

And, lonesome, called out for a mate to wed.

“Dance, dance,” it sang, “on the dunes tonight.

“Come, come, my love, and we’ll both take flight.”

Rumelabar was still so far away. It would take weeks for the caravan to conquer the Burlah in winter, when the bitter nights could kill as swiftly as the sun.



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