Along the road toward the city of Tyr from the foothills of Alturak came the young man, a blue-agafari-ironwood sword sheathed over his left hip. The lone figure loomed larger than most men; he was tall, broad of shoulder and thick of arm, his skin tanned the color of rawhide, eyes smoldering with hate, high cheekbones, a strong chin, and bald head.

Here, the sun remorseless baked the barren plateau, drawing spirals of heat from the flat, cracked ground. A hot breeze blew and spun small wind devils that twirled briefly with nowhere to go before dwindling to their dusty death.

The young Mul paused to drink from the leathern water sack he carried. The liquid was tepid and reeked of sulphur and tasted like Crodlu piss, but Arvak Frostbeard had tasted worse and been glad of it. He lowered the skin an looked around.

There was little to see. The plateau bore scant growth, a few scrubby bushes here, a cactus there. Ahead, perhaps another three hours' walk, was a rocky outcrop, no quite a foothills, but offering a bit shade, did Arvak's sharp eyes not lie.