A tiny shadow wheeled above the zigzag line of the mountains, the size of the tip of her claw at arm’s length. As Emaria watched, it dipped, hovered, then soared again.
The sun beat down on her. Her dry tail scratched against bunchgrass, and she wondered how the scrub survived without seawater. Maybe their roots are so deep they can reach water we can’t. Maybe we should dig.
A young man paused beside her. “What’s that flying thing?”
“I’m not sure.” She’d better tell Staever. Out here, all knowledge was superstition. He knew superstition.
And his map? Superstition as well?
“Ma’am?” asked the young lobster. “Are we going to stop today?”
The sky was pink with sunset. The lobster in front of her had the rough claws of a laborer but had slid up deftly as a pickpocket. His clan had stopped in their tracks to hear Emaria’s answer. If Emaria told him they planned to stop, he’d send the news up and down the column, and it would take all night to get them moving again.
Another night and morning, and people would start to die. But what else was there but the one hope of rain?
“Not yet,” she said. “Another hour. Then we’ll make camp. You can walk another hour, right?”
The lobster nodded dully and went to prod his family onward. I’ll come back in an hour and tell the truth.
She looked back to the darkening mountains. The flyer was gone.
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