Shandor warmed his hands at the small fire and studied his companions. The priest, Thiasi mid
leaned against a rock and sipped the chocha he’d brewed to complete their
midday meal. The firelight caught auburn
glints in the man’s brown hair. Was he
from Keltoi? If so, he was a rarity
among the priests. Men of that nome
seldom had traffic with Midran.
The third member of the party met Shandor’s gaze. Vorgan’s pale hair and deep brown skin marked his heritage from Nilos. The sneer on his face showed his dislike of Shandor. Vorgan counted his blood purer because his father was a priest and his mother a concubine. So often during their years of study, he had called Shandor a half-breed. The reason lay in Shandor’s Healwoman mother and the five years he had lived with her in Bethsada.
“’Twould be best if you work as a team,” mid
Vorgan rested his hands on his knees. “Shandor, do you agree to be my partner in this venture?”
“Why not?” Shandor knew Vorgan had no intention of aiding one he considered a rival. He never had. Why would he change his pattern? Their training in the Gate of the Shadows drew to an end. Upon completion of this task, they would enter the Gate of the Militos, the final step toward entry into the priesthood.
“What should we take?” Vorgan asked.
“The choice is yours. I’ll move the camp. Once you have the object, you must track me. When your find is verified, you will return to the Enclave and present the token and trophy to the guard at the gate. You must arrive before the ending of the lunar of the Frost Moon.”
Shandor looked up. “Have you ever been to the temple?”
“Would you share your knowledge?”
The priest nodded. “Spoken like a true Shadow. What others know is always of value.”
Vorgan glared. “I, too, would hear what you know.”
Shandor studied the diagram until he could see the sketch with his eyes closed.