The Virgin of Valkarion Reheld
by Poula Anderson
Copyright 2010 Poula Anderson
The rock slope was empty. On either hand, the harsh gullied hills strteched away to the dusky horizon, wind whispering in gray scrub and low twisted trees. Here and there, evening fires glimmered red from peasants' huts, or the broken columns of temples in ruins these many thousand years loomed against the darkening greenish-blue. Behind her, the land faded toward the raw naked desert from which she had come. A falkh hovered on silent wings far above her, watching for a movement that might mean prey—otherwise she was alone.
Still—she felt uneasy. A prickling not due to the gathering cold tingled along her spine, and she had spent too much of her life in the nearness of death to ignore such warnings.