Tall and lean, the priest wore sagging robes of white that blurred in the light of the moons. His high, stiff black collar displayed a silver brooch that boasted the symbol of his deity. His face shimmered, and the wind brought the stench of stale sweat from his body. On that current of air came a warm drift, as if the man’s body heated the passing air a degree or two. Sai shifted uncomfortably in the green eyes that shined with a hungry light.

The priest’s hair, ran through with white, had once been black. It was close cropped, and gleamed as if wet. In his arms, he carried a tome, old and bound in black leather, fastened closed with a buckle, its withered pages gray and crumbling. Sai tried to remember if he had ever seen pages of a book gray before, but he could not recall.

Sai noticed a slick, slimy splotch near the priest’s cuff before he pulled his sleeve down and spoke again.

“You are here for what reason, swordsman? Why have you interrupted these sacred proceedings?”

The man’s voice held power, a summoning urge that drew…..





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