In a land much-marked by canyons and cliffs, the Godswatch Heights were the greatest rise of all. The main Temple of Caarok perched up there, a short way back from the cliff’s edge, hence the name. It wasn’t the grandest temple – that title belonged to the Temple of the Three, at the heart of the city below. But it was plenty grand, and it was there that Caarok Himself spent most of His incarnate existence. To scale the cliffs was the last step on a pilgrim’s path to seek audience with Him and possibly enter His personal service. It was a harrowing climb, a test of skill and resolve, but it was one that could be done.

Kalim knew all this – most people did, who knew much of anything about the Three. It was one thing, though, to know a collection of truths. It was quite another to be standing at the foot of the Godswatch Heights, to see them stretching up, it seemed, to the scant clouds in the lightening sky. Here, it was not so easy to remember that people had made the climb successfully; much easier to recall those that had failed – especially those that had fallen from the cliff face and met their end. There had certainly been a number of such.

Up to this moment, Kalim had thought himself ready. He was athletic – strong, agile, and limber. He had been climbing things since he was a boy, much to his mother’s despair, and after the first year and a few tumbles from smallish trees, he’d not fallen. Not even when he’d moved on to mighty ancient trees and then, indeed, cliffs. He was a good climber.

And yet he was fairly certain that most who’d tried and failed had thought themselves good climbers as well. This wasn’t a tree in his family’s yard; this was the highest, craggiest cliff in the land. No other challenge he’d faced could be its equal. How could he say for certain that they’d all prepared him for this?


Everything was perfect, of course.

Lazuli was getting used to that. Kenji Amber was a raev; perfection was a driving goal in his life. In this case, the perfection in question seemed to be that of a plan coming together. From school to home to dinner, transportation went without a hitch. They had a table reserved, and Kenji had ordered ahead; appetizers were laid on not two minutes after they took their seats. The meal itself took longer – he hadn’t ordered that on Lazuli’s behalf – but they had something to nibble on while they waited.