The wind off the mountains might be considered cool and brisk to the Yeolis all around us. Kallijas, up on the platform didn’t seem affected but it seemed much colder to me than I remembered. Laisa was bundled in a gold fur cloak that Kallijas had insisted she bring, right next to me.
I offered her my elbow and she took it. Not that she needed support against all the people around us. She was better than me as a warrior, but it was the proper Arkan thing to do. Besides, her fur cloak was warm.
Around us there were other foreign dignitaries, including the entourages of Tor Ench and Haiu Menshir, Hyerne and tiny Zak from Brahvniki. The crown Prince of Tor Ench, whom I would love to speak with, get to know, was on the dais next to the Lakan princess muffled to the eyebrows in silk and furs, as much as Laisa. She was older, with the occasional tiny thread of white in her night black hair, but I thought her eyes were beautiful, over the gold-washed white silk.
On the dais there was Chevenga of course. Along with Kallijas there were Yeoli officials. I recognized the High Generals Hurai and the woman we called Steel-Eyes. There was the former Imperator, his sister Artira.
The square was jammed and the roofs of every building all the way around the square had a dark fringe of people on the roofs and at the windows. Some people climbed out onto the ledges of the windows, reminding me of lower Arko, where people would sit on their window sills for parades and sometimes to escape the heat. Here I was amazed they didn’t freeze their private bits off on the stone.
“Is it always this cold?” Laisa whispered in my ear.
“No, Serina. It is often much colder, but it is somehow easier to bear when one is immersed in it rather than flying in.”
“Oh. I see.” She straightened on my arm and drew in a breath of cold air sharply into her nose as if fighting it. I was trying hard not to feel envy. She is going to marry the man. He is going to ask her, soon, if he hasn’t already and she knows she is going to go to this snow spangled, human spangled wasteland. She knows, even if he doesn’t, that he is going to marry her.