By Lauren Haney

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Turning back to the dead man, Bak’s eyes fell on the head, the crown crushed and broken, a mass of dried blood and flesh crawling with flies. The body was limp, the pallid flesh A PLACE OF DARKNESS 45 beginning to swell. The man had been dead for some time, or had he? In the warmth of the tomb the process of decay would be faster. He could have been slain as recently as the night before. ” Pashed whispered. Sucking in his breath, Bak laid his hands on the lifeless form and rolled the dead man onto his back.

You can look down upon it from my cousin’s new structure. ” Bak looked up the long, sloping causeway toward the distant construction site. The broad smooth path allowed materials and equipment to be hauled from a canal at its lower end to the upper reaches of the valley floor, an undulating landscape of golden sand nestled within a natural bay, a curving sweep of high cliffs with tower-like projections of varying height cut from the face by erosion. When building the causeway, sandy mounds and rock protuberances had been leveled and the low ground filled to make the ascent smooth and straight, the grade easy.

Unashamed of his thinning hair, he wore no wig. He had not changed, Bak was glad to see, since washing away the sand and sweat of Wawat to return to this easier, more comfortable life. “First things first,” Amonked said, and ordered Huy to bring close a low table on which sat two stemmed bowls, a jar of wine, and bowls of fruit. ” Sipping a rich, flower-scented wine, Bak first thanked him on behalf of Commandant Thuty and himself for the promises he had kept. He went on to speak of the many individuals Amonked had come to know during his long journey south.

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