by Setsu Uzume
read by Nadia Niaz
A PodCastle original!
Rohnaq tried to rejoin her unit; but only shoved forward by inches, crushed by the crowd. They walked upward en masse, tier by tier, to the palace. One woman slipped a brown hand over her children’s shoulders to pull them out of Rohnaq’s way. Sweat-scent, sea salt, sour incense, and camphor dogged her all the way to the plaza. Wheat barons and merchant ship captains, cobblers, and beggars. All hoping to conclude old business and hear whether or not their prayers would be answered, and at what cost. Last cycle, Manaph ignored the new siege engine offered to her, and took the engineer’s life. Malajine’s army conquered three of their neighbors in exchange. Rohnaq had been proud of those campaigns, once. Now, they only reminded her of dear friends, lost in the name of service. Rohnaq didn’t dare to ask for a blessing.
A city blessed, every cycle. One life destroyed, every cycle.
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Setsu Uzume spent her formative years in and out of dojos. She also trained in a monastery in rural China, studying Daoism and swordplay. She is a member of Codex and SFWA. While she has dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck.
Nadia Niaz is a writer, academic, language nerd, creative writing teacher and third culture kid who now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She divides what little downtime she has between cooking, knitting, painting, dancing, powerlifting and, now, narrating stories for PodCastle.