Some hours later, one of the porters’ canoes reappeared, drifting downstream. Farciya, along with the four remaining in the other canoe, were able to bring it in to shore. Of the inhabitants, there was nothing but bloody stains, but the tools were intact.

“How are we supposed to return if that awaits us?” Tiris cried.

“We will follow the Silver Sea coast,” Farciya replied. “It is normally far more dangerous to take that route.”

Tiris did not respond. Instead, he segregated himself away from the camp and began taking sextant readings of the setting sun, which he compared to notes and drawings in a small notebook. The surviving porters were soon grumbling about their employer’s lack of empathy, and Farciya was of the same mind.

“We have decided,” she said, approaching Tiris at his work. “Unless you tell us what, exactly what, we seek here in Harbiyyah, we will go no further.”

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