Coffee Break Read – The Way Up

A short time later Caer was leading a small group of six Zoukai horseman westwards around the base of the mithan. Although from a distance the rock seemed almost to sheer up from the ground, the west face was not as steep and Caer eventually found a path. This track was narrow and rough, used by the small herds of wild browsing animals which went up to feed on the spring growth of the high plateau. Scraggly beasts, scarcely worth hunting for their stringy meat – the wild kin of the domestic curu, whose fat fleeces were woven into fine fabrics or pressed to make the warm thick felts everyone needed in the winter.
Even for the surefooted ponies the path was not easy. Loose stones from above could cascade down and send a pony skidding if it misplaced a step. But they only needed to dismount and lead the ponies at two places – once crossing a scree of rolling gravel and then again to skirt a large outcrop of rock by means of a narrow ledge which dropped away, dizzyingly, to the plain far below. Both the men and their ponies were blown by the time they reached the plateau and Caer called a halt so they could recover, whilst he shaded his eyes from the low sun and looked across the flat expanse.
Despite being tired, he felt a sudden pulse of pure exhilaration as he saw a blunt-ended object, as big as a building, rearing out from the rock-pocked surface and clearly visible over the spring growth of low shrubs. Between where they were and that huge object, was a large area of more debris where everything had been blackened. There was no crater, but even the rock seemed charred. Caer had no doubt whatever was in that blackened ground would be of little value now, but it seemed that at least part of their prize was relatively intact. He turned to the other Zoukai unable to suppress a grin.
“Let us see what the fated sky has brought our Caravansi,” he called and set his heels to his tired pony, urging it into a reluctant canter, the other Zoukai close behind him.

From The Fated Sky the first part of Transgressor Trilogy, and the first book in Fortunes Fools by E.M. Swift-Hook.

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