The Redemption of Erâth: Book Three, Chapter Six

Chapter Six: Viura Râ

 

When Brandyé next knew the world, he was in a forest; of little else he was certain. Fleeting glimpses of snow and of cold passed through his thoughts, but he found he could not connect them to any concrete memory. He had no idea how he had come to be where he was now, nor of where he had been before. Come to think of it, he had no idea where ‘here’ was, and as he looked about him, he began to wonder how he might find a way from ‘here’, and to anywhere else.

The trees were utterly prodigious in size; they towered hundreds of feet over his head, vague rays of sunlight filtering through the high pines and needles. Brandyé was uncertain, but it felt late in the day, as though evening were coming on. The ground was a patchwork quilt of sun on faded needles, and Brandyé felt there was an importance in this, a significance about the natural daylight, but he could not place it. He was standing in shade, and moved into a patch of sunlight, and for a moment delighted in the warmth on his skin.

After a while it came to his attention that he was thirsty, and so he began to walk, hoping to find a stream nearby. As he passed through the trees a light breeze brought to him the scent of pine and mold, and they were comforting. In a place deep in the back of his mind something told him he should be concerned, that the woods were not a safe place to be, but he could see no threat, and felt quite at ease.

The ground sloped gently, and he followed it down, instinct telling him there would be running water at the bottom of the hill. He was not wrong, for after less than half an hour he came to a clear brook cascading over stones, and immediately he bent to the water and drank his fill. The water was cold and refreshing, and it brought to him a sense of clarity, and he knew that he must seek shelter for the night.

After a time the woods began to darken, and Brandyé set about gathering things to make fire. It took him little time for there were many fallen branches to be found, and the dry needles were excellent kindling. He soon had a great stack of firewood gathered and cleared a space on the forest floor beside a great tree, and gathered together a small pile of needles. With a pair of stones gathered from the stream he struck to them a spark, and before long night was upon him and he was warm and well-lit nonetheless.

As the nighttime sounds of the forest wound around him, Brandyé tried to cast his mind back to anything he could think of, and though vague images passed through his head—a house on the moors, an old man, a woman in black and one in white—he found he could not focus his attention on any of it, and came to the sudden realization that he had no concrete memory of anything before this day. With this realization came, oddly enough, relief: though he knew he ought to be worried, there was a kind of satisfaction in knowing that, whatever had led him to this point, he had nothing left to worry about. He could not recall anything that had reason to give him concern, and as he closed his eyes he smiled, for the world seemed good, and somehow he thought he had not felt this way in far, far too long.

Come the morning the fire had guttered and gone out, and a light dew covered everything. A spider had spun its web amongst the unused firewood, and Brandyé watched it for some time, as motionless as the tiny creature itself. As he looked upon its pattered brown body and long, spindly legs he had the impression of having done exactly this same thing, many, many years ago. He wondered idly where that had been.

Eventually he stood and wandered back to the stream, its cold water his only breakfast. Despite his lack of recollection, he knew perfectly well that he had not passed his entire life among these trees, and that it would not do to remain among them for the remainder of his days.

He decided that his best course of action would be to continue following the stream, for if nothing else it would provide him with water, and might possibly lead him to better things—a town, or village, as the stream coursed its way through the woods and into larger rivers. As he walked, however, he began to recognize hunger stealing upon him, and knew that he must find something to eat before long, or his progress would be brought to a stop almost as soon as it had begun.

Around midday he finally could stand the gnawing in his stomach no longer, and stopped to look for mushrooms, or onions, or indeed anything to fill his emptiness with. As he was overturning a fallen log, he jumped and nearly shouted out when out of nowhere he heard the voice of another person: “Hello!”

He spun around to see a man, perhaps middle-aged with a distinct beard, standing causally behind him and watching him with curiosity. He sensed no hostility, and uncertain how to respond, replied with, “Hello?”

You’re a long way from anywhere,” the man spoke. “What are you doing here in these woods?”

For a moment Brandyé considered. “I don’t know,” he said truthfully.

The man looked to the log he had dropped and back to him. “What do you mean, you don’t know?”

Brandyé shrugged. “I … don’t know. I was here yesterday, and I’m here today; I don’t know where I was before that.”

The man’s lip twisted. “What’s your name?”

And suddenly, Brandyé’s face fell for he realized this was yet another thing he was not certain of. Did it start with a B? “I … I don’t know,” he admitted.

“Well, sir,” the man said gruffly, “I’m Yateley, and ‘I don’t know’ is a rather poor choice of name, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

Brandyé felt momentarily lost. “Truthfully,” he said, “I can’t remember my name. I feel like it starts with a B, though.”

“Well then I’ll call you ‘B’,” Yateley replied, “until you can remember the rest of it. I suppose you can’t remember where you’re from, either?”

And Brandyé shook his head, for indeed he could not. “I suspect,” he said slowly, “that it isn’t near here.”

For the first time, Yateley smiled. “Come on, B. Let me take you home. I daresay you’ll feel a little more comfortable once we get some real food inside you.”

And so, with Yateley leading the way, Brandyé followed this strange man through the woods. It was not long before they came upon a home, a log cabin built in a small clearing, and Brandyé could see at once that Yateley must live alone, for it was not large enough to hold more than a single person, certainly. Indeed, as Yateley pushed open the door and allowed Brandyé to step in, Brandyé could see that it was almost entirely a single, large room: there was a bed against one wall, a couch against another, a table in one corner, and what he took to be a stove in the other. There was a door near the back of the house, and Yateley nodded toward it. “Go run yourself a bath; you look like you need one. I’ll get you some fresh clothes.”

“Where can I get water for the bath?” he asked.

Once more, Yateley looked at him with bewilderment. “You turn the tap,” he said in a tone that suggested such was obvious.

Confused but unwilling to argue, Brandyé crossed the log house and pushed open the door in the back wall. It opened into a small room that contained what was clearly a washbasin, and a large tub. Brandyé closed the door and contemplated what was before him. There was no water to be seen here, but there was indeed above both the basin and the tub a large, rusting metal tap. He reached out and grasped the one over the basin, and as Yateley had suggested, turned it.

Almost at once, steaming water began to pour forth, draining from the tap into the basin and emptying itself down a hole at its base. Alarmed at this apparent waste of water Brandyé looked for a stopper to block the outflow, and failing to find one, ended by turning the tap the opposite direction. The flow of water ceased, and the last drops gurgled down the drain.

Turning his attention to the bath, he saw here at least an obvious plug for the tub’s own drain sitting on the edge of the tub, and turning the tap began to fill it with hot water. Completely perplexed at where all this water was coming from, or how it came instantly hot, Brandyé realized he did not care: a hot bath was a hot bath, and so he stripped and got in, and in the warmth and the steam almost immediately fell asleep.

Over the following days and into weeks, he stayed with Yateley and became comfortable with his ways. Yateley, it seemed, lived deliberately alone, away from any great population of people, and lived ‘off the land’, as he put it. He seemed willing enough to accept the mystery of Brandyé’s appearance and his unknown history, and confided to Brandyé that despite his general dislike for the society of men, he did occasionally long for conversation. “I don’t mind that you don’t bring news of the outside world,” he said, “for I have no desire to know of such things. I’m glad merely to have a companion to talk to.”

These occasional references to the ‘outside world’, however, roused in Brandyé a curiosity, and after perhaps two months he began to come to the realization that, as friendly as Yateley’s company was, he could not remain here for much longer. Like so many things that remained hidden from him, he could not remember what he had been doing before appearing in Yateley’s woods, but he had the vague notion that it had been something dreadfully important, and the need to move on began to nag at him. One day he broached this subject with Yateley, who sighed and said, “I supposed you might say such a thing sooner or later. Do you have an idea of where you might be headed?”

Brandyé shook his head. “I have the strangest notion that I need to travel north,” he said, “though I couldn’t say why. What is north of here?”

“Immediately?” Yateley asked. “Nothing but more forest. Three days west of here is the village of Verdièth, but to the north you could travel for months before seeing another living soul.” He paused for a moment. “Of course, if you’re talking about great distances, you would eventually come to the sea in the north; across the Oceans of Narün, you would eventually come to the great island of Oríthiae, and the city of Viura Râ.”

Inexplicably, the sound of these names began to excite Brandyé, and he knew somehow they felt familiar. “What is in Viura Râ?” he asked.

Yateley grunted. “You ask as if I’ve been there. I grew up here—” he indicated the forest all around them “—in the lands of Golgor. My birth town is called Taraeth.”

“I feel like I recognize some of these names,” Brandyé said. “Viura Râ is a great city, is it not?”

Yateley shrugged. “So they say—the greatest in all of Erâth. Of course, the world is a big place.”

“How can I get there?”

Yateley raised his eyebrows. “You think to travel to Viura Râ?”

“Why not?” asked Brandyé. “Perhaps there I might find answers.”

“Answers to questions you don’t even have,” pointed out Yateley.

“Questions, then,” replied Brandyé. “All I know is—no offense to you—I can’t stay here forever.”

“Nor would I have you. You are a mystery, B, and you do deserve answers.” He sighed again. “You would need passage by sea, and without coinage you will need to work your passage.”

“I can work,” said Brandyé.

Yateley nodded. “I have no doubt you can. We can leave for Verdièth soon: I have enough on me to pay for your travel from there on to the seaside town of Lambeth. From there, you will be on your own.”

The town of Verdieèth was a solid three days’ travel from Yateley’s small hut, and it was not at all what Brandyé had been expecting. They arrived late in the overcast evening, and in his mind, the village ought to have been dirt paths and oddly places homes, dark in the rain and the gloom, with smoke rising from the chimneys and chickens in the mud. Instead, his eyes took in what seemed to be endless straight rows of houses, roofs red and pointed and not a chimney on one of them. Equally straight and smooth roads ran between them, crossing each other here and there, and Brandyé saw that they were not dirt, nor even cobblestone, but a flat stone material that he did not recognize. He saw that there must be hundreds of these homes, and asked Yateley: “How many people live here?”

Yateley shrugged as he walked and said, “Perhaps a thousand, two thousand? I don’t truthfully know.”

Brandyé realized that what Yateley was calling a village was, to him, a great town, and he wondered what all the people in Verdièth did, for he could not see a farm or even yard with more than just grass among all the homes there. The houses were built in great rows, large windows facing onto the road and doors spaced every dozen yards or so along them. Every so often a dark passageway would appear between the walls of the homes, leading presumably to the houses’ rear gardens, if gardens were even to be found here. The houses were built of a sandy stone, and rose two stories above the road so that Brandyé felt almost in a small valley between two sandstone cliffs.

Almost every home was brilliantly lit, bright light shining forth from the curtained windows. Not only was there light from the homes, though, but also from great lampposts that stood twenty feet high at intervals along the road, so that even in the dusk gloom there was ample light to see by.

Yateley led Brandyé along this street, passing through the glow of the lampposts, his shadow swirling around him as he walked. Behind him he followed, first down this street and then down another, and though each road seemed identical to the last to Brandyé, Yateley seemed to know where he was heading, and did not slow in his pace.

After some time, they came upon a kind of open space, and Brandyé realized this must be the town’s central square, for here were clearly shops and not homes: names and professions were emblazoned on signs that hung over and beside almost every building. Some he recognized, whilst others remained an utter mystery to him. He was grateful, though, when Yateley led him to a broad building near one end of the square and he read the sign that hung over the door: The Tavern Green.

“We’ll get some food in here,” Yateley said, “and we can pass the night. In the morrow, you can take the carriage from here to Lambeth. It’s a two-day ride.”

And so Yateley pushed upon the inn’s door, and light and voices spilled out into the wet evening. Into the tavern they went, and Brandyé felt a thrill of recognition to see a bar, and a fire roaring in a real hearth, and many men and women drinking and eating about the place. This was something he recognized, he knew, and he felt comfortable.

Yateley directed them to a pair of empty chairs before the great fire, and bid Brandyé sit while he sought them food. When finally he returned, it was with two mugs of ale, and Brandyé sipped at his his swiftly and appreciatively. Not long after food was brought to them, and it was sausages and potatoes and leeks, and Brandyé found that in the midst of so much strangeness he was glad for such familiar food, though he could not remember why it ought to be familiar in the first place.

He was soon finished with his meal, and sated, sat back in his chair and enjoyed the feel of the fire and the warmth of the ale, which was surprisingly strong. “Is this place typical of the rest of the world?” he found himself asking Yateley. “I have no recollection of what it’s like elsewhere.”

Yateley took a draught of his own ale. “I daresay most of the villages around here are like this one. The great cities, however … I hear they are quite a bit different.”

“Different how?”

But Yateley shook his head. “You’ll have to find out for yourself. Perhaps one day you’ll return and tell me. Remember, I’ve never been outside of these parts of Golgor.”

As Brandyé sat back and considered this, a flash of memory came suddenly to him, and he asked, “Yateley—have you ever heard of a place known as Consolation?”

“No—never. It’s a odd name for a town, though.”

Brandyé frowned. “I don’t think it’s a town … more of a country, I think.” He shook his head. “I imagine it must be far from here, if it exists.”

“Is this something from your past?” Yateley asked quietly.

“I think so. I just wish … I wish I could remember.”

“I think you will,” said Yateley. “When you need it to, it will return to you.”

Brandyé smiled at him. “I hope so. I feel quite lost, sometimes.”

“So does everyone, at one time or another,” said Yateley sagely, and Brandyé thought this was quite a wise thing to say.

The following morning he stood outside the tavern with Yateley, and waited for the coach that would take him hence to Lambeth. The rain had given up in the night and the sun was out once more, and Brandyé was overcome with the sensation that he had missed the sun for a long time. The weather in general here in Golgor seemed genial, with rains that lasted not too long and sun that bore not too much heat; he would have thought it was late spring, had he any reckoning of the seasons here.

It was not long before the coach arrived, and it was yet another surprise to Brandyé, for it was driven by no means that he could see: no horses pulled it, nor did any beast push it, so that it seemed uncannily to come to a stop before them of its own accord in a monumental cloud of steam and smoke. It was vast—at least thirty feet in length, Brandyé felt it must house several dozen folk at once, and indeed as he mounted the steps into the coach’s belly, he saw that there were already many people sitting quietly on benches along the length of the carriage.

“Here,” said Yateley, and passed to Brandyé a small purse. “This’ll get you to Lambeth, and perhaps a little further, if you’re lucky.”

Brandyé took the purse with thanks, and with a swift farewell, took a seat among the many other travelers. Momentarily the coach set off, leaving Yateley and the town of Verdièth far behind them. After a few minutes of rough, bumping travel, a uniformed man approached Brandyé, clearly having difficulty keeping his balance. “Fare?” he fairly barked at him.

Somewhat nervous, Brandyé opened Yateley’s purse, and realized he had no reckoning of the currency therein. “How … how much?” he asked the conductor.

“Five,” the man said somewhat cryptically, and Brandyé poked in the purse, entirely mystified as to how many coins represented ‘five’. After a moment the conductor grunted and said, “Here.” He reached out for Brandyé’s purse, and not knowing what else to do, Brandyé allowed him to reach into it and grasp what seemed to be a rather large handful of coins. In return, the conductor gave to Brandyé a small scrap of paper with markings on it, and said, “Don’t lose this, or you’ll not get back on.” Brandyé took the paper and carefully folded it into one of his cloak’s many pockets. As the conductor left him, he thought he heard him mutter something about, “Country fools.”

For some time then, Brandyé sat back and watched the countryside pass them by, for the coach was endowed with many large windows and afforded a wonderful view of the land around them. It seemed to Brandyé that they were traveling at quite a great velocity, for the trees nearest the road seemed to very much rush by, and he thought perhaps he had never traveled so fast in his life.

Despite the straight nature of Verdièth’s roads, it seemed the paths of Golgor had no qualms in following many bends and curves once they were free in the countryside, and Brandyé found himself often at risk of being thrown from his seat as the coach barreled around sudden corners or over great hills. It seemed they were traveling through a considerable forest, and Brandyé started to wonder just how far these trees extended from Yateley’s cabin and beyond.

After some hours, however, he began to feel that they were gradually descending, and indeed there came a place where the enormous trees gave way to flat plains, and as the sun began to descend over the western horizon the fields of grass were painted with blood, and Brandyé thought it all looked quite beautiful.

Through the plains and into the night they continued, and Brandyé discovered that the coach was equipped with those same flameless lanterns that were so common elsewhere in this land, for against the growing darkness outside the coach’s interior remained lit with a warm, albeit dim, light. Eventually Brandyé began to doze, and found his rest easier here for the twist and turns of the hills and forests were no more. The rumbling of the coach became almost soothing, in fact, and he soon slipped into a deep sleep and did not wake until the morning.

When he did, it was to a most astonishing sight. At first Brandyé was disorientated, having forgotten where he was through the night, and it took him some moments to recognize the moving view through the window as a vast ocean, far below them and stretching out into infinity. The coach, it seemed, was winding its way along a clifftop road, and as the sun began to rise in the east and glint off the waves below, Brandyé could but stare in awe. Once more indistinct images floated across his vision, thoughts of a sea he had once been to in the past, but in his mind that sea was black and ailing. This sea, however, was a brilliant, deep azure, reflecting of the cloudless sky above, and it gave to Brandyé a wonderful sense of peace and of calm.

So the coach went on, and so the sun rose, and it was perhaps midday by the time Brandyé noticed they were once more descending, this time in great winding loops that took them precariously down the face of the seaside cliff, and knowing that Lambeth was a sea town, suspected they were beginning to approach their destination.

Indeed, far below them soon appeared many buildings and houses, and Brandyé saw that their appearance was quite different to those of Verdièth; whitewashed walls reflected the noontime sun brilliantly, contrasting starkly with the black pitch roofs, and the roads between them were anything but straight and even. A smile came to Brandyé, for this was a town that rang of a greater familiarity to him, despite lacking a memory of any other town to which he could compare it. A scent of sea air came over him, and excitement began to build in his breast: here, he was certain, he could find passage to the great city of Viura Râ, for there was promise here.

Eventually the great coach ground to a halt along what seemed to be a main street of the town, and Brandyé descended from it onto cobblestone, his legs wavering from sitting for so long. Lambeth, it seemed, was the destination for most of the folk aboard the coach, for they all seemed to descend with him into the street, leaving the coach empty as it started off again. Once more Brandyé was struck by the fact that the coach seemed able to nearly drive itself, though he recognized that the conductor had remained aboard, and wondered if somehow the man was responsible for steering it as well.

Looking around him, Brandyé saw that there were many folk passing here and there, in and out of shops and pubs, and as he was hungry, directed his feet to the nearest place he recognized as a tavern. The Ancient Mariner, the sign over the door read, and as he entered, he thought the place looked as ancient as the sign proclaimed. Sunlight filtered blue through much smoke, and Brandyé saw several old men sitting at a bar, long pipes grasped firmly between their teeth. At his appearance their conversation stopped momentarily, and though their eyes moved warily over his countenance, he felt no threat from them.

Approaching the bar, he addressed the old men with a nod, and they continued to stare upon him. “Is this a good place for a meal?” he asked them.

For a moment the old men remained silent, and then one of them muttered something to the others, who chuckled in turn. “Tû vèrae vreed, jünger,” the man then said. Brandyé was taken aback, for he had hardly been expecting the man to speak in words he could not understand.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked.

One of the other old men laughed and said, “He says you are very odd, young one.” He cast a gaze over Brandyé’s tattered cloak. “I agree.”

Brandyé raised his eyebrows. “I suppose I would as well,” he acknowledged. “I’m curious—what language was that? It sounded somehow familiar.”

“Ès vèrae erâtheet,” said the first man. “The high speech. It ought to be familiar; did you not learn it in school?”

Brandyé shook his head. “I suppose I might have. I have no recollection of my past.”

“Ha!” exclaimed the old man. “A boy without a memory! How odd indeed. What’s your name?”

“They call me B,” Brandyé said. “I can’t remember my true name.”

“Odd indeed,” repeated the old man. “Well, I am Favereth, and these are my companions, Wilhelm and Karth. Welcome to Lambeth—I sense you’re not from here.”

Brandyé shook his head. “Not from here. Not from anywhere, really—I’ve just come from Verdièth, but before that … as I say, I have no recollection.”

“Barman!” called out Favereth. “Food for the boy with no name!” He turned back to Brandyé. “This is indeed a good place for a meal. Would you like a whiff of pipe?”

Graciously Brandyé accepted the man’s pipe, and pulled at it gently. The smoke was strong and thick, and he could not help coughing. Favereth laughed. “That’s a boy! It’ll do you good.” And he retrieved the pipe from Brandyé. “So, what brings you to Lambeth, then?”

The barman had brought to Brandyé what appeared to be a cold beef sandwich, and he took a ravenous bite before answering. “I’m looking for passage, on a ship if there is one to be found.”

Favereth raised his bushy white eyebrows. “Passage, eh? To where?”

Brandyé took a deep breath, wondering if the old men might laugh at him. “Viura Râ.”

And laugh indeed they did. “Viura Râ?” exclaimed Wilhelm. “What in Erâth do you want to go there for?”

I’m not certain,” Brandyé said truthfully. “I hear it’s a great city—I’m hoping it may help me find answers.

Such as your name?asked Favereth.

Brandyé nodded. “And my provenance. I can’t escape the sensation I’m on a journey; I just don’t know where from … or to.

“Well, I suppose Viura Râ’s as good a start as any. How were you going to pay your passage? You don’t look all that rich to me.”

“I was told I might work my passage there,” Brandyé said, “though I admit I’m not certain what work there would be to do.”

Favereth grunted. “Hm. Not above a bit of work. I like you, boy. I tell you what: let me introduce you to the dock master this afternoon—as it happens, he’s a good friend of mine. If anyone can find you a berth aboard a ship, it’ll be him.”

And so Brandyé thanked Favereth and finished his sandwich. A pint of ale and two pipes later, he and Favereth set out from the Ancient Mariner toward the docks to meet with the dock master. As they walked along the boardwalk set out over the sea, Brandyé marveled at the ships, for they seemed to be made not only of wood but of iron and steel as well, and he wondered how it was possible that they floated at all upon the water.

“You seem a strong lad,” said the dock master when finally they found him, directing the loading of many goods and wares onto a large vessel moored at the dock. “Fancy coal loading?”

“What is that?” asked Brandyé.

“Ha!” uttered the dock master. “You’ll find out soon enough!”

So Brandyé was found a berth on a cargo vessel bound for Viura Râ, and coal loading, it turned out, was the most vile, dreadful task Brandyé could have imagined. Fire burned in the belly of these great vessels, and men were needed to stoke the flames day in and day out. After an hour Brandyé was hot, sweating and thick with black dust, coughing and spluttering as he shoveled an endless supply of coal into the furnaces, accompanied by a dozen or so other strong men who seemed unwilling to complain, and so nor could he. There was no daylight in the dismal steerage, and Brandyé soon lost all track of time. When finally a taskmaster came to tell him it was time for his rest, he followed the other men, stumbling along narrow passageways to their berth, which was a tiny cramped room with many bunks and no windows.

Brandyé’s own bed was pressed up against the hull of the ship, the lower of two bunks, and he collapsed gratefully into it, wondering how he would survive the two weeks it was said to take to arrive in Viura Râ. He dimmed the lantern nearest him, and passed into a fitful sleep.

When Brandyé awoke, it was to the sound of many voices speaking casually, and he suspected he had overslept, for around him was a great deal of bustle, with men sitting on their bunks, or dressing, or eating bread. He asked the man nearest him where he might find some food, for he was suddenly ravenous.

“If you want food, don’t sleep so long,” the man said gruffly, but offered Brandyé a morsel of his bread nonetheless. “It’s back to the furnaces in a minute.”

Brandyé devoured the mouthful of food, and set off with the others for yet another shift of painful and dejecting labor. So the cycle continued for many days, heavy work amongst the furnaces followed by deep rest in the dim berths. Every so often they were allowed free reign to the upper decks, and it was then that Brandyé was reminded of his desire to see the great city of Viura Râ, and felt that he was indeed on the right path: the sight of the sun sparkling on the endless waves, or the evening light passing red through the ship’s smoke, or the faint outline of islands in the distance, spoke to him of a world on the brink of greatness, and he knew somehow that he was in a world far removed from the one he had come from, wherever it had been. And amongst it all, he could not deny an overwhelming sense of longing, of sadness and of despair: a feeling that came crushing upon him out of nowhere and caused his vision to swim before him. He could not explain where these thoughts came from, but a deep part of his mind told him that the beauty of all that he saw around him was not to last, that the world he was traveling through was somehow on borrowed time. He wondered if he had anything to do with it, and if his time in Viura Râ—should he find his way in the great city—might be able to prevent whatever downfall he sensed would not be long in coming.

Thus his journey continued, these thoughts occupying him when he was not busy with manual labor or sleeping, exhausted, in his dark bunk, and two weeks passed swifter than he might have thought. So it was that, one morning there was a greater commotion than usual in the berth, and the man who slept beside Brandyé said to him, “They’re allowing us on deck this morning—we’ve arrived!”

Excitement building in him, Brandyé followed the crowd of men through the labyrinth of passageways and up steep stairs to emerge upon the ship’s lower deck, looking out to the north to see what he could see. And there, on the horizon and sitting on the edge of the world itself, rose the majestic towers of Viura Râ, and tears of wonder came to Brandyé’s eyes.

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