They had encamped five days before, near the Oak-House of Wanderers, for he knew how she loved the cool shade of the great Tree. Moreover, it bolstered his clan’s reputation as priests and prophets of the sky-god to return so frequently to the sacred spot. If she alone had ever achieved transcendence while those of his own blood remained firmly rooted in the visible world, it mattered little, for he revealed her gift to no one. By her counsel he had prospered, growing rich off the increasing might of the men of Hazor, as more and more they desired the weapons and instruments of war that he could craft with greater skill than any native smith. His herds and flocks had grown large, and they never lacked for grain or honey, or even spices, for they could obtain all they needed in trade. Indeed, when those goods grew too large to transport in the volume required to purchase her husband’s services, he began to amass gold and silver and rich fabrics in their stead. She had begun to grow comfortable, allowing herself to hope once more for a life of safety and plenty.
Nevertheless, a growing disquiet had crept over her for several weeks, gnawing at that part of her mind which she could never fully comprehend but had found dangerous to ignore. She had probed often for the source of this unease in the cool quiet of morning and evening, shutting out all other sensation for hours at a time and waiting for the truth to arise out of the depths of her consciousness, but to no avail. She could feel a change coming as surely as her face felt the shifting of the wind, but only when they had neared the end of their annual circuit, passing along the shores of the great lake, had she received her first hint of its form.
They had just begun to diverge from the water, hoping to reach the shade of the Tree by evening, when they passed a small house on the opposite side of the road, its farmland stretching out beyond it. As her part of the caravan neared the place, a flash of sunlight blinded her, gleaming from the armor of several bronze-clad men who stood outside the house. One of them was performing some repetitive task while his fellows looked on, and the harsh delight of their laughter sent the bile rising into her mouth with dread. Her husband, at the front of the caravan, knew his business and led on without comment, keeping his eyes on the road. As she passed the house, though, she gazed openly upon the scene.