They were all women, none of them young. They were not all together but in separate clusters of three or four. Some were on horses but there were also ponies, donkeys, mules and even a hinny. All of the riders wore something very similar to the robe the seer was wearing under the vestment. She looked hard at their faces. I know you. Or rather. The goddess knows you and she has given me her recognition of you. “Good morning, leaders of the devotions to the Mistress of Time.” The seer kept her voice serene while thinking: You all want to have different titles, well this is what you get.
“Ladies,” Jonan sounded as if he would have doffed his hat if he’d been wearing one, “To what do we owe the pleasure?”
“It came to our attention,” the oldest looking one spoke, Querida of Thanreal supplied the seer’s mind, “I can’t quite remember how, that the Sun Emperor would be taking the seer from the temple today. It seemed an opportune time,” she gave a sweet old lady smile, “To renegotiate the relative status of senior clergy in the Mistress of Time’s service.”
“Please don’t let us keep you from your duties,” responded Jonan and Zhaerudmeal moved to one side.
“You’re late you know,” replied the old woman, “We expected you the year two seers died.”
“That would have been Joteth,” said Jonan, “He was killed in a skirmish with bandits. Unavoidably detained.”
“Death would be acceptable excuse. Please don’t let us keep Your Majesty and Your Highness.” It was another of the women, Sofia Blacktape, who replied and began to move her mount forward.
“You must have so much to do,” added a muffled voice from somewhere in the middle of the loose knit group.
“Well, there is that,” Jonan agreed and Zhaerudmeal began to amble forward again.
When they were past the newcomers the seer asked, “How did they know to come today? I thought I was the only seer; that was what the big deal about me was all about.”
“Ah, that,” Jonan sounded embarrassed, “I must admit, I wrote them some letters. They were my back up plan for getting you out of that place. Now they can help sort out the mess the temple created back there when it fell down.”
“As the civil authority, I’m providing shelter and physical assistance. Given my civil and religious roles it would be inappropriate for me to do more.”
“You’re running away.”
“Only a little bit. Besides, I wanted to show you this.” Zhaerudmeal was coming to the end of the curved cutting.
The view suddenly opened out in front of them,spilling lower ridges, foothills, forests and rivers down to the grassy plains that ran to the horizon in the east. “The beginning of the rest of the world.”