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It was the day of the Calling.

Feirouz and Seya arrived at the amphitheater early, but not before Lakes had already claimed a spot near the front with a blanket and basket, the latter of which was undoubtedly full of snacks. They stepped gingerly as they made their way through a patchwork of blankets, mostly occupied by one or two people saving space for a larger group to come.

The white striated cliff face that separated the wahd and itan districts from the rest of the city occupied most of their vision once they were seated.


Seya’s fingers twitched. They hovered over the satchel, anticipating her first dip, fingertips cooling from the drying saliva. She plunged them in and out, the minor tingle the cap shavings gave as they stuck to her skin heightening her anticipation. Seya passed the fingers under her nose, inhaled deeply, and then traced the outside facets of both eyes, using a separate finger for each.


The tea was nearly steeped.

Seya set down the mortar and pestle—grinding the last of the herbs for the recovering molts could wait. The worms needed their herbal infusion, but so did she. Seya was far enough along in life and career that when the steeping was done, everything else was put on hold.


Margue was sweating, but the night was cool. He was perched atop a seliota stalk, which swayed under his movements. It was one of the tallest fungi in the forest, and gave him a beautiful view of the canopy. Had the moon been full, and he blessed with more time, the beauty of the greens and yellows and oranges of the fan fungi sliding between and on top of each other would have held him transfixed. They were the very reason day trips ascended the easily climbed cliffs to the east and drew so many visitors.


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